A movie without purpose or theme cleverly disguised to appear as if it has both. Magnolia is a 3-hour-8-minute waste of time. It begins with a 10-minute narration of nonsensical events related to nothing that follows it and then we are introduced to ten characters in rapid fire succession while loud vocals obliterate any dialogue that might help us learn who these people are. In fact, the loud vocals crop up throughout the film deliberately drowning out everything including your interest.
Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights), who wrote and directed this monstrosity, is one of those “wunderkinds” for whom Hollywood has rolled out the red carpet. I hope it’s a polyester one and wears out quickly, for Magnolia is not a movie that deserved to have been made.
The one thing we do understand about the characters is that they are all in pain of some sort. So was I watching the film.
It’s a movie filled with an enormous amount of wasted talent. Jason Robards, a dying TV executive; Tom Cruise, a uniquely crude and revolting male chauvinist sex motivational speaker; Philip Baker Hall, a dying TV game show host; William H. Macy, a former TV quiz kid; John C. Reilly, a lovelorn cop; Melora Walters, a cokehead; Melinda Dillon, a cheated upon wife; Julianne Moore, a cheater of a wife; Jeremy Blackman, the real quiz kid, and sundry other uninteresting characters.
While some characters have important relationships to one another they are like wisps in the breeze because all of them wallow alone in their own pains and regrets over wasted lives. And it takes well over two hours before we get even the slightest payoff for all the attention we paid up till then.
Too many characters (thus too many storylines), not enough real interaction between them to get to know who they are, ridiculously loud, annoying music, no resolution and stupidity galore.
So, why should I care about any of it? I didn’t and I suggest you don’t either. Oh, the storyline? Something about coincidence. And that’s how it got made.
Lotta says: Magnolia proves my point perfectly: that movies in Hollywood don’t really have to be any good at all to get made. They just have to be someone’s vanity project.