Mladen and Del review ‘Bug’

“Bug” Starring Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins. Directed by William Friedkin. 102 minutes. Rated R.

( Warning: Spoilers follow. )

Mladen’s take

Aside from seeing Ashley Judd naked and one moment of exquisite acting, I’m hard-pressed to find anything good about the movie “Bug,” recently released on DVD.

Granted, I’m no Einstein, but having to turn to the director’s explanation of the movie to figure out its meaning is reason enough to dislike the depraved, violent effort. Then, as it turned out, not even the director sounded like he understood the movie.

“Bug” is incomprehensible because there’s no reference point.

Is Peter Evans, played by Michael Shannon, really an Army soldier gone AWOL after being injected with some experimental concoction that makes him believe he’s being attacked by nearly microscopic aphids? Or is he just crazy?

And, how could he persuade Judd’s character, Agnes White, that she should help, and stay with him, after he contaminates her and her grungy motel-room home with the “bugs”?

Yes, White is vulnerable emotionally because the memory of her 6-year-old son disappearing while they grocery shopped shadows her every move, but would that make her gullible enough to self-immolate, with Evans, to end the movie?

The most sympathetic character in the film, ironically, is White’s abusive ex-husband played beautifully by Harry Connick Jr. in the role of Jerry Goss.

There’s a scene — it’s about two seconds long —where Goss, the wife-slapping ex-con, becomes more sympathetic, even human, than White or Evans ever could.

The moment is played with such stunning heartbreak that, all by itself, it damn near saves the film … damn near but not quite.

Del‘s take

Somebody hand me a can of Raid. I’m gonna spray this vile movie until it curls up and dies, like an invading midnight cockroach.

“Bug” is shocking because it highlights the kind of crap that passes for art these days – gratuitous violence inflicted by unsympathetic lunatics on self-appointed victims.

It’s one of those spiral-into-insanity kinds of films that invites us along for the ride. But after seeing this wreck weave back and forth across the center line I bailed and called the cops.

The Judd character is an unlikable victim whom we’re led to feel sorry for – sorry, I didn’t – because her kid was abducted. Her solution: stay drunk and beaten up.

The guys in her life are slimeballs who should be put away in cells – one, prison; the other, padded.

The story is … well, there IS no story. It’s just an extended vignette drenched in mayhem, madness and murder.

No law requires that a movie edify or enlighten. But it MUST entertain, and I ask: What’s so fun about watching two nutcases dissect each other?

Nothing – unless you’re a fan of hernia exams.

Don’t see “Bug.” Spray it. Step on it. Sic the cat on it.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.

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