Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“Thrillingly Embarrassing”

November 13th, 2009 · 5 Comments


After a week’s hiatus, Bad Movie Friday returns with a vengeance, in the form of the made-for-TV Rosie O’Donnell vehicle Riding the Bus with My Sister. Perhaps Ms. O’Donnell reckoned that her star turn as a mentally handicapped woman would be critic proof, as no one wants to be accused of insensitivity. But she didn’t account for the sly critical genius of Virginia Heffernan, who set upon this stinker like a 13th-century Mongol horde upon a defenseless city on the steppe:

This underhanded movie makes Ms. O’Donnell into an appalling cartoon only to pretend innocence – or, no, moral superiority – when the viewer is appalled. Is Beth’s voice deafening on your television set? Is her lumpy form in a Tweety Bird T-shirt depressing? Is her nascent sexuality hard to contemplate? You must have no heart. And you will have to come around to her innocent wonders…

The viewer, meanwhile, is sure to cringe – and often. This is another inexplicable effort by an actor to overplay a slow, strange character and teach everybody lessons. The sanctimonious old stunt is not fair to viewers. This is a deeply – even thrillingly – embarrassing movie.

We’re curious to know how many of y’all can watch the entire clip above. We made it to the 1:36 mark, then had to look away in horror.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Gramsci

    Makes “Bill” look like “My Left Foot.”

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    A rom-com starring Rosie O’Donnell and Daniel Day Lewis could be amazing…

  • buskertype

    I remember hearing how bad this was, but I had no idea. I made it about 2 minutes.

  • yoshi22g

    I guess perhaps my bad movie radar is a little off, but I made it through the whole clip and thought the character was endearing. Still not sure what people are finding appalling/embarrassing about it? I mean, I don’t think it should win any awards, but I’m actually more annoyed with Vijay Mehta’s subpar Indian accent than I am with Rosie’s portrayal.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @yoshi22g: I’ll let Heffernan chime in here:

    “Beth is mostly a constellation of misfit affectations – funny clothes, bipolar outbursts, a forced, garbled voice – and goofy physicality. Beth seems to be wrapped in a loose, superfluous layer of flesh, a symptom of some kind of metabolic disorder (she also gobbles sweets). As a character, she doesn’t make sense: she’s socially awkward, but not consistently disabled. She’s less poignant or tragic than merely clamorous and bothersome.”

    I agree. O’Donnell’s performance just rings false to me–she doesn’t disappear into this character at all, but just layers on tics and affectations. And as Heffernan notes, I sense that she thought the fact that she was playing a mentally challenged woman gave her a thespianic free pass.

    That said, let it be known that Bad Movie Friday has been known to known some films with rather broad fanbases. Don’t get us started on the deluge of e-mail we recently received from fans of “Commando.” All opinions respected here, save for those from people who think “Hard Ticket to Hawaii” is a masterpiece.

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