The Truth About Charlie

Ohmygod, this is awful. AWFUL, I tell you! This makes the short-list of the worst studio productions I’ve ever seen. Who knew Jonathan Demme had such a crapterpiece in him? This is the director of “Philadelphia” and The Silence of the Lambs, stooping to the level of mediocrity generally reserved to the likes of Paul Anderson and Simon West.

A remake of Stanley Donen’s “Charade”, “The Truth About Charlie” stars Thandie Newton in the Audrey Hepburn role of a young widow who learns that her husband was a crooked secret agent who snatched a 6 million dollar loot during a mission. This cost him his life, and now the killers are after Newton, whom they believe has the money, even if she doesn’t know it. Enters Marky Mark Wahlberg (standing in for Cary Grant), a mysterious stranger looking to a) help a damsel in distress, b) get into her pants, c) find the money for himself, d) all of the above and even more incomprehensible layers.

Demme keeps showing the Eiffel Tower to remind us that the film is set in Paris, and maybe to justify how shockingly amateurish his direction is by passing it off as a misguided French New Wave homage. Every scene is shot with a shaky handheld camera, and sometimes it’s cheap-looking digital video as well. The sets are awful (a federal agent’s office has only a piece of paper with his name on the door), the dialogue is so bad that it might have been improvised and the acting is rotten all around.

Thandie Newton wanders around with a deer-in-the-headlights look, every bit the dumb bimbo character, alternating between wide-eyed giddiness, whining, screaming and bending down so we can see down her blouse. She has zero chemistry with Mark Wahlberg, who’s ridiculous on his own wearing a beret, taking off his shirt for no reason and changing identity every half hour. Also embarrassing themselves are Tim Robbins as an American federal agent, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Ted Levine and Joong-Hoon Park as the Three Stooges of the paramilitary and plenty of obnoxious French stereotypes.

“The Truth About Charlie” is packed with even more badly written nonsensical international intrigue hogwash than the “Mission: Impossible” movies, but without a single exciting set piece. Instead, we must suffer through high camp like the scene where Newton’s character successively dances tango with all the major characters, a cheesy love scene which has French crooner Charles Aznavour materialising in the room and a laughable climax in a flea market with one preposterous twist after another.

I can’t fathom how anyone could make such a consistently worthless picture. This must be someone’s idea of a cruel joke on audiences, a dare to release the worst film possible.
“I see your Batman & Robin, and I raise you Godzilla.”
“How about Battlefield Earth?”
Tomb Raider!”
“Waitaminute… The Truth About Charlie.”
“Ouch. I fold.”