Friday, January 14, 2005

"Once again the scientific Faust has been destroyed by his Mephistophelean creation." --Isaac Asimov, The Rest Of The Robots, 1964
This musical movie opens at a gay wedding in Boston. Attending it are two young friends, Sean and Janeane. At the start, he is punching the wedding photographer, and then dangling him over the rail of the church stairs. The young couple then does a long Buddhist chant about how all life is sacred, and decide to go visit the man who taught them all killing is wrong, Professor Gnome Calumnisky, at the nearby Misplaced Intellect Tradeschool.

The film then cuts to the first of several appearances by a Pundit, in a bookish office with a University of Tennessee pennant on the wall. He covers transitions by telling us what we've just seen, then adds "indeed" or "heh".

We next see Sean and Janeane travelling in a Kerry For President van, listening to the Presidential candidates debate lumberyard purchases on the radio. Suddenly the van gets a flat tire, and they get out in the rain to walk to a nearby palace and call for help, pausing to sing a sappy song about how "There is peace, Even in the midst of war".

A servant, Alberto, lets them in and questions them suspiciously, telling them his master is having "one of his covert affairs." Alberto and another servant, Condie, then start singing and dancing a nostalgic song which begins "I remember, Kicking the leftists", and goes on to a refrain of "Let's stomp the leftists again." Sean and Janeane nervously back away from them, and wind up in a ballroom full of partying guests, all wearing black, brown, or silver shirts. Even the narrator gets up on his desk to take part in the song: "We all just jump on the left, And then move far to the right."

When this big number winds down, an elevator rises up from the cellar carrying the host, Blancoponte. He does a song of his own introducing himself:
I'm just a death squad starter
Who honed my technique
In El Salvador.
The pundit interjects at this point that this line is not relevant, since the Contras were actually in Nicaragua. The host then invites everyone down to the lab, where he is creating an amimatronic killer for Iraq, that will assassinate rebel leaders remotely by satellite.

In the lab, Blancoponte orders Condie and another servant, Rummie, to go and assist Alberto in activating the new machine murderer, named Iraqi Hitman. Iraqi sings a lament that he doesn't want to kill Sunnis for Blancoponte, because that would violate the Geneva Convention. Alberto sings a memo that those don't apply to a domestic insurrection. Iraqi then sings that it would violate international law, but Alberto sings another memo that this doesn't apply because Iraq doesn't have a valid government, so it couldn't ratify the statute for the International Criminal Court. Iraqi then claims killing fellow Muslims would violate the Koran. At that point Janeane pipes up to sing that the Koran doesn't matter, because she read somewhere that God is dead. Everyone turns and stares at her. Finally, Iraqi sings that if she's sure, he'll do it. Blancoponte praises his creation, but is irked enough by Janeane's opinion ("I don't like men who do too many murders") to shout at her "I didn't make him for you! He carries the Leo Strauss Seal Of Approval!" He goes on to sing to Iraqi "With just one mouse click, I can teach you to kill."

Blancoponte starts to lead the new creation to the assassination control room, but just then a door in the wall breaks open and some bearded hermit runs in from his cell. Rummie recognizes an old friend of his and shouts joyfully "Saddam!" The would-be escapee starts a song about how great it was to be able to slay anyone who pissed him off:
Deadly nerve gas,
Kill the Kurds!
I really like to say those words.
He begins zooming around the lab in a small hydrogen generating truck. When he stops to begin playing a solo on the mijwiz, Blancoponte bludgeons him to death with a desert entrenching tool, and shrugs that Saddam never had been a good servant; even with lots of aid, he couldn't defeat the Iranians. With bloody hands, he takes Iraqi away.

Sean and Janeane are shown to separate rooms. Later that night, Blancoponte goes into Janeane's and shows her films of how the Sunnis are oppressing women. This makes her angry, but not enough to be violent. He then shows her film of them abusing camels, and that makes the vegetarian angry enough to kill, so he shows her how to play a computer game and pretend to kill them at long range, like televised Texas deer hunts. This pleasures her immensely; it looks almost orgasmic on the screen. After she gets more and more excited watching the heads burst open on the monitor, he finally tells her it wasn't animation, but live video from Fallujah, where Iraqi Hitman is killing by satellite each person she marked for death. By that time she is so overcome with passionate hatred she says she doesn't care, because those animal mistreaters deserved it.

Blancoponte then goes into Sean's room and seduces him into the same kind of multiple killings. In his case he first shows Sunnis stoning adulterers to death, then beheading pacifists, and finally giving licenses to paparazzi. After that last one Sean happily continues the sport even when he finds out it was real. "See?" says Blancoponte, "Absolute power is absolutely delightful."

Meanwhile Janeane wanders out and finds Iraqi sitting in the control room. Looking thoughtful, she asks if he could kill some more people just as a favor for her. When the shy creature agrees, she starts gleefully picking out some Americans she hates, starting at the White House and working down the list. As he blasts them away from space, she's ecstatic again.

Alberto buzzes Blancoponte on an intercom that someone else is coming in. Blancoponte and Sean dash out to the lab, where the monitors show them a blind man with a guide dog entering. Sean says "Why, that's Dr. Calumnisky, with his seeing-eye dog Yasser." Blancoponte accuses the young couple of being part of a plan to uncover his latest project (which Sean denies), and orders the Doctor brought to the lab. They then discover Janeane breathing heavily in the control room with Iraqi. In the middle of this confrontation, Alberto announces dinner.

At the dining table, Dr. Calumnisky demands to know what happened to Saddam, who he reveals was secretly his own nephew. (No one looks surprised at this revelation, and the Pundit says it explains many things.) When Blancoponte goes on munching and says Americans feed on failures, they realize that Saddam's corpse is the meat they're eating. Calumnisky says "It's worse than I thought -- patriots!" Blancoponte says "Go on, Dr. Calumnisky -- or should I say Comrade Calumnisky?" Sean jumps up asking what he is implying, but the professor calms him and they sing a song about how misunderstood poor Saddam was. The smirking host pulls aside the tablecloth to reveal the ex-dictator's butchered body, and the guests all flee in horror.

They don't get far before Blancoponte paralyzes them all with another new toy of his. He then drugs them to make them obey, and arranges them in costumes and positions to perform in a new musical documentary he is going to film, called "Kelvin 4.5 x 10 (to the 7th power): The Temperature Of Deuterium-tritium Fusion In A Thermonuclear Bomb".

Wearing hangman's hoods, they join him to sing and dance a number praising the wonderful feeling you get from slaying people you hate. Iraqi's solo goes:
"It was great at the very start,
When we pricked names upon a chart.
But it's just not the same from space,
As it is to kill face to face.
The only consolation left
Is the corpses they have to heft.
Blood tints my screen -- the main
Thing's I'm watching their pain."
Suddenly Alberto comes in with a gun, and stops them with a recitative:
You're arrested.
Your hitman was excessive.
He's even killed our leaders.
I'm next in succession.
You'll be tried at The Hague.
I have joined the ICC."
Blancoponte shouts "Wait! I've just reformed!" He begins another song, with the others on the stage serving as the chorus:
The first time that I did slay,
(Chorus: How sad)
Was more than I could say.
(Chorus: That cad)
Should not have got in my way.
(Chorus: Too bad.)
Now, I'll see a better day.
Obviously having prepared this defense in advance, he kicks a lever. A huge neon crucifix rises from the floor, while projectors begin showing scenes from "The Passion Of The Christ" on the curtains backstage. He goes on:
I feel my sin
Through the blood on my skin.
Since killers can't win,
I'm born again.
I'm born again.
I'm born again.
The calculated hypocrisy of this planned "conversion" finally proves too much for Alberto to stomach, and he just goes ahead and shoots Blancoponte and Iraqi Hitman. Sean, Janeane, and the Professor retrieve his dog (which was sniffing at the exploded corpses of Condie and Rummie), and flee the scene. Alberto flies back to Washington to draft a memo blaming everything on The Clenis.

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