I am interrupting my regularly scheduled blog to bring you another piece on a movie. I had something else I wanted to write about but then I went and watched “The Departed”. It’s been getting rave reviews and for the first two thirds of the movie they are deserved. But the last third of the movie was jaw-droppingly bad. My mouth was literally open and I kept saying “Huh?” for the last half hour or so of the film. Dry mouth was setting in. I won’t ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it and who might agree with all of the raves it’s getting. But here is a short recap with no plot spoilers. Just some generalities.

The basic plot of the movie is Leo DiCaprio is the undercover cop and Matt Damon is the undercover criminal. They are trying to find and do away with one and other. It’s a bit more subtle and nuanced than that but there’s the one sentence “high concept”.
The first thing that bothered me is that there was this little subplot about them liking the same girl. Leo and Matt didn’t know about each other and the girl was a psychiatrist (yes, she wrote prescriptions) who worked for the police so it was almost believable. I was willing to overlook that little bit of moviemaking conceit because the rest of the movie was excellent.

Then came the last half hour. Realism was thrown out the window and my willing suspension of disbelief came crashing down. Everybody started acting like brainless movie characters and not like the smart people they were in the first two thirds of the movie. It turned into a sit-com without the comedy. Well, the comedy was there it just wasn’t intentional. It was a sit-dram. If even one character stopped and thought about what he was doing, as they were all doing earlier in the movie, the movie could have ended half an hour sooner. Instead we have a series of coincidences, smart guys suddenly acting stupid and a key character going on vacation for two weeks. Seriously, at the climax of the movie when he is needed the most a key character, instead of sticking with the case he has built for a year, is sent on a vacation.

You know that old cop movie cliche where the cop “doesn’t play by the rules” and pisses of his captain so the cop is forced to take time of? The cop never actually take time off and works on the case “on his own time” until at the end of the movie he captures the bad guys and everything is okay. It’s the plot to “Beverly Hills Cop” and plenty of other films. In “The Departed” the cop in question actually takes the time off! That’s because if he was still on the case he would have figured out who the mole was in ten seconds. But they had a half an hour left in the movie so off he went. We don’t need him. He’s just the key to the whole investigation.

The ending was like an episode of “Three’s Company”. If someone had just said, “Lucy is the name of the dog and not a girl Jack is banging in his room” than a whole side splitting episode of misunderstanding and mirth would never have happened. Acceptable in a comedy but not in a gritty drama.

To further expand the sitcom theme I think the only way this ending would make any sense is if all of the movie actors were replaced by the characters from Seinfeld for the last half an hour. I see Kramer in the Nicholson role, Jerry in the Damon part, George as DiCaprio, and then we can fill out the rest of the cast with all the wacky people from the Seinfeld world. Puddy and Newman hanging around as cops or criminals would be amusing.

I’m going to mention “Murder by Death” for the second week in a row. At the end of that movie as Truman Capote, the villain of the piece, is telling all of the detectives that they didn’t solve the mystery correctly he comes down on them for their bad mystery novel tricks. One of the tricks he chides them for is introducing characters in the last chapter who “weren’t even in the book before”. Hence cheating all the people who were trying to figure out the mystery of ever being able to do so. I was reminded of that line when in the last ten minutes of “The Departed” a previously unseen and unmentioned character shows up, has a pivotal role, and then goes away. All in the space of two minutes! Sure maybe he was around in the background for a bit but he was unnoticed and unimportant until his nonsensical goofy actions were required. It just made me go wha?????

By the end of the movie I was ready for some zombies. Really. If at the climax of “The Departed” zombies had showed up and started eating people I think it would have made more sense. Near the end of the movie a character was opening his apartment door and I thought, “A zombie popping out right now would top this movie off just right”. Maybe in the special edition.

Oh, and by the way, there are certainly no crime scene investigators in this world because the crooked cop was just making up stories that made no sense to describe what happened when various dead bodies showed up. One look at the blood spatter and every character on CSI would say, “He’s lying”.