Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Which one of you nuts has got any guts?

I don't understand psychology. Not as a science, shit, nor even as a required college course (one of my only two C's ever was in my Intro to Psych class, though the professor was a huge bitch, literally, as I think she may have been just a hair under eleven feet tall). I don't understand discipline that is based on how people behave. My chief concern? Well, inherently, people are full of shit. Not just those exhibiting the behaviors, but those classifying them as well.

In 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Jack Nicholson plays R.P. McMurphy, a hot-headed a-hole, who has seemingly schemed his way into the psych ward. Attempting to shirk work detail, McMurphy's plan is to hang out with some nutcases until his jail sentence is up. The rub? If he's not crazy - he's gotta go. But too crazy (Hell, just crazy enough)? He's in. Possibly forever.

You, being as cultured and handsome as you are, probably know everything about this movie. But for me, borderline illiterate and troll-like, I'm seeing this fresh forty-plus years after the fact. And obviously, I was blown away. Not only by Nicholson, who's as charming and crazy as they come, but by the story and the entire cast. It's f--king insane how good they are. Truly.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is the fact that it's almost impossible to classify. It damn near tight-ropes every genre. Clearly it's a drama, but with Jack steering the ship, there are comedic elements liberally sprinkled throughout. But, somewhat surprisingly, it also contains bits from heist movies, thrillers, buddy comedies, a little romance (here and there), and even a solid coming-of-age story as well. But simmering under all of that? Major aspects of classic horror flicks, complete with a menacing villain, as the reality of mental institutions is truly terrifying, even when the lights are on. It's no surprise to me that it's currently ranked as the fifteenth best movie ever by IMDb users, though their mental faculties are likely questionable at best.

Not ranked in the top fifteen by users of anything  (including oxygen) are the Yays and Boos for this Milos Forman-directed classic. When they eventually get committed to an insane asylum, oh wait, I mean prison, please make sure you write to them. Their favorite words are the ones that look like pictures of naked women.

Longshoreman hat? Check. Sweet dark brown jacket? Check.
Halloween costume secured for foreseeable future? Check.
  • First and foremost, despite genuinely liking all of the guys on the psych ward, I f--king loved Chief. Just showing that guy standing there quietly was, for me, compelling cinema. And I felt that way before the final twenty minutes. After? Shit...
  • McMurhpy's initial reaction to the psych ward is hysterical. He's having way too much fun.
  • Basketball and Jack. This has been a winning combination for years courtside at Lakers games, but here it's even better. Not only when he teaches Chief, but also when he feeds him down low, like a Native American Mark Eaton.
  • Dude, it took me a minute to realize that was Danny DeVito. Whoa.
  • While we're talking sports, let me stand up and cheer like an idiot for the scene when McMurphy finally gets to watch the World Series. I wish I knew someone who loved real baseball that much, let alone imaginary.
  • Best line? That f--king nurse, man.
  • When the crew is caught on the boat, the look on their faces as Dr. McMurphy is introducing them is priceless. They're such refined lunatics.
  • I'm not even sure what 'bird-dogging chicks and banging beaver' actually means, but it seems like something I should probably tattoo on or around my scrotum.
  • There are some heavyweight fight scenes in this one. Really. Washington and Warren aren't f--king around.
  • But who is f--king around...rather immensely, is my main man Turkle. As bad as I felt for this guy, I loved him even more.
  • Brad Dourif was really, really good as the tormented Billy. His final scene totally f--ked me up. That f--king nurse, man. Indeed.
  • And finally, the ending. As much as it shocked and disappointed me, it was just about the best way to tie a bow on a movie depicting the shit show that institutionalized mental health (likely?) is. It's so heartbreaking, but at the same time honorable and possibly...just a little, sweet and uplifting.

If they were all just a little fatter...
 ...this could pass as a Brown/Russo family reunion.
  • The word voluntarily has never baffled/upset me more.
  • Medication Time! Ugh. The classical music made this, somehow, even more depressing.
  • Is that how group counseling really goes? Someone's problems are aired for the rest of the guys to try to solve? That seems like the worst idea possible.
  • Nurse Ratched. This chick may be the biggest villain of all time. Honestly. She's is truly an evil bitch. I found nothing human (or humane) about her. At all. Ever.
  • Jesus, Cheswick. That was one of the most intense freakouts ever put to film. I wasn't even sure that acting.
  • So, electroshock therapy, huh? Is there anything worse to do to a mentally unstable person? Wait...that answers coming later, isn't it?
  • I honestly looked away when McMurphy finally loses it. I thought Louise Fletcher was gonna die, not Mildred Ratched.
  • And finally, yes, the ending. Again. It f--king broke my heart. Fine, that was the best thing to do, but what the f--k, man? How could they? And how could he? 
You know, the more I think about the ending, the more I realize that it makes everything that came before it completely arbitrary. Apparently, someone in charge can simply make your life a living Hell, solely based on what they believe about you. They don't even have to really know you, and can base your worth on a small sample of your life. And when that person in charge is a f--king psychotic bitch to begin with, who really stands a chance? 

I mean, this is how you end up brain-dead, wasting your life away in a room full of nutcases.

Or in my case, brain-dead, wasting your life away in a room full of nutcases, with a C. 

Oh, and a blog.


  1. Great review! I've only seen bits and pieces of this throughout the years, but I really need to sit down and watch the whole thing. I don't think I've ever actually seen the ending.

    1. Thanks, Brittani.

      I would completely recommend that you give this one a shot. The whole thing is so iconic, so classic, it's probably worth it even if you somehow don't even enjoy it. But with a young Jack cranked to 11? Good time's guaranteed.

  2. LOL, that IMDB shade was awesome.

    1. I don't know what that means, but thank you.

    2. "It's no surprise to me that it's currently ranked as the fifteenth best movie ever by IMDb users, though their mental faculties are likely questionable at best."


      Basically, I dig your insult.

      It's funny cuz it's true. I guess it was more shade on the film (a backhanded compliment) but it made me laugh.

    3. Ah, Fisti. So much cooler than I am...!

  3. I can't believe someone like yourself who's seen probably hundreds of movies going by your review archive, had not seen this classic 70s flick until now. I've probably seen it a few dozen times in my lifetime and I swear it gets better each time. That ending scene when Chief finishes off McMurphy makes me cringe each time, I think it's the tone that the movie gives off after Billy commits suicide.
    It's pitiful that the accuracy in this movie still holds up today, if the meds don't change you the doctors will work on you until you're nothing but a vegetable. Or so I've been told, contrary to some I don't have any personal experience on the matter.
    Great review, here's mine if interested

    1. Yeah, the list of what I haven't seen is pretty ridiculous. And there's no particular reason, either.

      As for the movie, yeah, it's pretty much straight downhill after Billy offs himself. The good time/party atmosphere is absolutely destroyed. Yeah, I cringed, say the least.

      That also surprised me, too, the fact that this movie is essentially timeless. Ugh.

      I'll check out your review now!

  4. Great review man. You know, a good friend of mine actually worked in a mental institution for quite some time, and she said that, while this film is probably the most accurate one ever made about such a place, there are reality differences worth noting. For one, given to the right patient, electroshock therapy can actually be useful. Isn't that nuts? And the patient never feels it (they're knocked out) and thereby doesn't even remember it. But it can be beneficial. Crazy.

    And yeah, that's pretty much how group therapy works. I've never understood how that can fully benefit patients either.

    1. I recall discussions about electroshock therapy in class, but it still boggles my mind that it's an effective practice, especially as it's portrayed here. But I dig what you're saying. And dude, you've got some pretty cool friends. First Safe Haven and now this? Does everyone you know work with crazy people?

      I've heard the term 'group therapy' a million times, but to see it in action? Shit. Hardly seems like a thing that anyone would go for, in addition to being entirely illegal.