Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Review Rating: 7
Down and out law student Luke O’Brien decides to sue the Devil for 8 trillion dollars, and to his surprise, the Devil actually shows up in court with an army of lawyers!
I was really stoked about being able to see this movie. I had heard of the premise, seen the trailer, and holy cow it’s Malcolm McDowell as Satan himself, that’s awesome! Turns out, not so much. Not to say that McDowell didn’t turn out a fantastic performance, he did. But the movie itself could’ve been so much more of everything – funny, world-reaching, hell even moralistic, and it wasn’t. The sheer snark of Dogma wasn’t there, and despite the fact that it’s in an Australian Court, the courthouse scenes are reminiscent of My Cousin Vinny, which I did enjoy, but it’s still a hick court in the middle of a hick town, please keep that feel in mind.
So Luke O’Brien has very little, he’s a down and out struggling law student who apparently recently lost his mother to a drunk driver. The night the bad guy gets let out from prison, Luke storms off from his girlfriend to study late night in the law library. And there he gets the inspiration to, that’s right, sue the Devil himself. And amazingly enough, the female judge does not throw her gavel at him, have him in contempt of court or anything like that, she tells him if he actually serve the defendant with these suing papers, she’ll consider it. And Luke actually goes through the motions, as best he can, of being his own process server – to an oil company, a strip club, a few Satanists, you get the idea. Really? Poof, we’re back at Court and Luke is about to get tossed, when Satan actually shows up and the whole thing goes to trial. Satan, or Prince as he likes to be called, has himself a bevy of the best and most savage lawyers from all over the country, they keep saying, and yet they’re completely farcical in court and the judge repeatedly tells the whole lot of them to shut UP and sit DOWN! Like convinces some lawyer friend of his who just passed the Bar exam to help him, and together with his sickly girlfriend offering moral support, they take on the Devil in an Australian courtroom, suing the ancient Fiend for, yes, 8 trillion dollars. No-one ever asks, if Luke is to win, where this 8 trillion dollars is to come from, but it ends up not mattering. Luke and Prince go head to head in the Courtroom several times, battling with demons and angels, faith versus sheer antipathy. Somewhere in there, Luke seems to go from angry and depressed to the front man for soldiers of Jesus Christ against the Old Adversary, sans the Templar style violence in the Courtroom of course. And I began to actually get a bit annoyed at this point, this was not how the movie was advertised and it’s not as though I want Luke to lose, but come on. Prince does get his grand speech a la Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate style, and while it is fairly impressive to see Malcolm McDowell screaming to the jurors, “I hate all you humans!”, the judge actually rules it, wait for it, inadmissible and orders the jury to disregard the entire speech. Oh and the excerpts with Barry, Tony “The Hip” and Jasmine, people on TV covering the trial with their oh so vaunted opinions for the rest of the world, just gets in the way, only providing cut-away relief from the courtroom itself. Back in the Courtroom, public opinion turns this way and that as the final speeches are given, and of course the jury brings back a verdict in Luke’s favor, complete with the 8 trillion dollars. And then, as I throw things at the screen, Luke O’Brien wakes in the law library a changed man, having to run home and share his changes and newfound love for the Lord and Jesus Christ with his girlfriend! It explains all the incongruities of the movie, but I reeeeeally don’t like cheap endings like that. The film had it’s moments, but those moments don’t outweigh the bad parts.