Eye of the Beholder (1999) — The wigs are the scariest part

“The last time I blinked, I lost you.”

Sue’s rating: So awful, I felt sorry for it.

Sue’s review: The other day, I was tidying up the kitchen table. Which is to say that I was transferring the contents of one massive pile of miscellaneous debris into several smaller, but less likely to landslide, piles of miscellaneous debris. Among all of this (and most likely the culprit of some major shifting issues) I found a toy. Probably leftover from Easter, it was a rabbit. Not your cute, fluffy bunny type though. This was deformed rabbit, rabbit after an intimate visit with the Spanish Inquisition. (Noooooooobody expects the- oh never mind.) It was horrible as can only happen to something that’s spent at least a week or two in the recesses of my eldest offspring’s school backpack. [I don’t go in there without rubber gloves, safety goggles and a sturdy pair of tongs. The only thing worse than his backpack is his desk at school. Ask me about the owl pellet sometime.]

I picked the foul faux hare up gingerly by one corroded ear and asked my youngest, Spawn of Mutant 2, whether she wanted it, because otherwise ol’ Flopsy was hopping down the bunny trail to Mr. McGregor’s… nope, not garden. Garbage can. SoM2 snatched it out of my hand, gave it a cuddle and disappeared as though I’d just given her my credit card and her very own eBay account.

A while later, SoM2 came back and watched me thoughtfully for a few minutes before venturing, “Mom, have you ever… when you were a kid, did you… if you saw a toy that was… well, not quite normal…”

“Feel sorry for it and take it home with me and love it because I knew in my heart of hearts that no one else would?” I filled in.

She nodded quickly.

“Sweetie, why do you think I just offered you that putrid bunny, instead of throwing it away?”

Vastly relieved and possibly not knowing the meaning of the word “putrid”, she dropped her voice and confided, “Or if you drew a picture of a puppy or a horse and it didn’t turn out right, but you-”

“Kept it anyway because it wasn’t its fault that I was a lousy artist? It used to drive your Nana bonkers. I had BOXES of ’em. Heck, I probably still do.”

She threw her arms around me and gave me fierce little hug.

It’s sort of sweet and wonderful to know that my daughter has inherited my “sappily anthropomorphic” gene, for lack of a better description. While I know it’s going to mean buying her a filing cabinet for all those imperfect drawings, and probably a few more giant laundry baskets for housing defective beanie babies and inadvertantly bisected — but still adored — Polly Pocket dolls, I like to think that it’s a worthy investment. It tells me that my daughter is a compassionate and generous person — even with inanimate objects.

As mentioned, I’m the same way, always have been and always will be. I don’t just root for the underdog, I take him to the vet and find him a good home.

So, in a moment of sweet epiphany, I realized that the defective stuffies and skewed sketchings of my youth have given way to the halt and the lame of the cinematic world in my adulthood.

This is the only legitimate reason I can possibly fathom for having bought Eye Of The Beholder even — and this is important — even after I’d rented and watched it.

Sheesh, speaking of Mr. McGregor’s garbage can!

On the surface, Eye of the Beholder ought to be a really cool crime story/psychological thriller. I expect that at some early stage of its development, it was. For that matter, the first ten minutes or so are really cool.

The story, as far as I can tell, is that there’s an agent, code named “The Eye” (Ewan McGregor), who works for a super-secret intelligence agency. While in the course of a bit of in-house investigating, he witnesses Ashley Judd murdering his assigned quarry, and instead of doing anything remotely rational (like reporting it) he instantly transforms from a cool professional superspy into a slavering stalker reminiscent of a panting little psychopathic puppy who’s just old enough to have figured out that you can do much more with the mailman’s leg than bite it — but who lacks the equipment to do so. The fact that Ashley insists on committing the multiple sins of wearing bad wigs and being a serial killer seems to either escape him or interest him. This is probably because the long-lost daughter that his ex-wife took away from him years ago pops into his imagination and jumps up and down on the bed singing songs and kd lang keeps calling him on the batphone to nag. Oh, and Jason Priestly gets the snot beat out of him.

Did I mention this was weird?

I’d love to tell you the rest. I mean, it’s not really worth watching this movie unless you’re really into seeing Ashley or Ewan embarrass themselves just by being in this travesty, so spoilers are sort of a non-issue. The only thing keeping me from spilling the goods is that… I do not understand this plot. I just don’t get it. I’m of the opinion that the actors didn’t either. I’d even question whether the director ever did. As far as the ending goes, it’s very dramatic, even action packed, but it makes no sense whatsoever. There’s a car. I can tell you that much. I’m sure there was a car. And… and a motorcycle. Yes.

Periodically I stuff the tape into the VCR to see if repetition leads to new insights. Nope. Migraines are not insights.

Just to illustrate how slapdash and random the editing is, in one scene, Ewan McGregor’s character is wearing a dress. Now since they removed the scene that explains WHY he’s suddenly in touch with his feminine side (a disguise involving a baby carriage), they decided to only show him from the chest up so no one will notice. The frilly collar and puffy cuffs are sort of a dead giveaway though. Sloppy. Very sloppy.

Y’know, there’s even sort of a documentary about the making of Eye of the Beholder (“Killing Priscilla”) that maybe explains things. I’d rent it to find out, but the fact is that I don’t care enough to waste the space in my ever-growing Netflix queue. I just can’t dredge up any enthusiasm for watching the director trying to explain, or even worse, excuse himself.

So yes, the only reason I own this movie is that — like my daughter — I felt a strange sense of compassion for something deformed, awful and foul.

Didja notice?

  • There must have been a bulk discount sale at Wig-O-Rama.
  • In the picture the Eye carries of his daughter, the crease in the paper changes.
  • Ha! Stalker 90210
  • kd lang actually did a really nice job with her role.
  • Would a train compartment really be that watertight?
  • That the story progresses over a ten year span? No, I didn’t either.
  • That is one seriously ugly jacket that Ewan McGregor wears. Do spies shop at rummage sales?
  • Creepiest snow-globe souvenir collection ever.

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