Oh, Richard Kelly, why? Why did you have to go and make a movie as bad as Southland Tales and ruin all of that goodwill from Donnie Darko?
Save one hypnotic scene in which Justin Timberlake lip syncs and dances (Budweiser in hand nearly throughout), the movie is a big dud: boring, over-the-top, making none of the points it wants to make and all of those that it doesn't.
Fortunately, the film's creators seemed to know they hadn't made anything worth much of anything, so we were given a mercifully paltry smattering of extras on the DVD release.
There's a 30-minute featurette, hidden behind the kooky name: USIDent TV: Surveilling the Southland, in which Kelly and the other creators make it clear that they think the movie is much more important than it is: It's all about alternative fuel and how we're destroying ourselves as a nation. Which...OK, but that is not how the movie plays. The featurette is actually not bad. Kelly is eloquent, as are the other folks who speak (including stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, and various other cast and crew members). If I'd seen only the featurette and not the movie, I probably would find myself drawn to the film. Unfortunately, if you see the featurette after the movie, you're going to know these people are blowing smoke up your ass, and they'll start sounding to you like humans sound to dogs in a Gary Larson cartoon: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, oil. Blah, blah, blah, blah, film. Blah, blah, blah politics and art." Ironically, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds (Curtis Armstrong) says the most intelligent thing about the movie. He calls the script "impenetrable." I'll say.
Part of this featurette turns into a detailed look at special effects. First, the filmmakers show us how they pull off a tricky stunt: someone getting hit by a car; then they show how they chop people's hands off and other body effects. It's pretty interesting, but doesn't fit in this featurette, and probably should have broken out into its own documentary for inclusion on the DVD.
The highlight of the featurette is when Kelly shows how they made the Timberlake singing and dancing scene -- mainly because it's the only thing to really care much about if you've seen the movie.
The other extra is an amateurish animated short, This is the Way the World Ends. It has little to do with the movie, except that they're both trying to be overly political, and it's really pretty terrible. If you watch it anyway, it will feel like the longest 10 minutes of your life -- and, remember, you won't get those 10 minutes back.
The best part of this DVD, then, is without question the cheestastic trailer for Zombie Strippers, a movie starring Robert Englund (yes, Robert Englund, as in, the guy who played Freddy Kruger) and Jenna Jameson (yes, that Jenna Jameson). You might never watch the movie (I know I won't), but the trailer is one of those glorious finds that you might never know about if you hadn't rented a movie as horrific as Southland Tales.
Buy it now on Amazon