Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bonds Away! 007's Worst Gal Pal or Have You Met Ms. Jones?

Welcome back, movie lovers! When we last met, I pondered the unfortunate decision of Neil Connery (kid bro of Sean) to try his hand at the spy business.

It wasn't pretty.

In fact, "OK Connery"/"Operation Kid Brother" firmly established Neil as the worst James Bond imitator EVER, snatching the laurels from (among other worthy contenders) Ray Danton, Stewart Granger, Vince Edwards and Mike "Mannix" Connors.

And since a king should should ideally have a queen, let's move on and name the worst Bond Girl EVER, shall we?

No matter how hard the James Bond franchise tries to keep up with the times, the Bond Girls are basically set decoration. Sure, now they are computer programmers, financial experts, academics and spies themselves; however, their real duty is to model bikinis, fancy evening wear and moan "Oh, James!" during bouts of pillow biting nirvana.

Because the acting bar is set so low, 007 has had to emote opposite some very dubious talents over the years: Jill St. John, Brett Ekland, Barbara Bach, Terry Hatcher and Tanya Roberts are just a few cinematic cuddlemates who found the demands of shrieking "Look out, James!" beyond the range of their capabilities (other Bond Girl wash-outs include ice skater turned actress Lynn-Holly Johnson and Carole Bouquet from "For Your Eyes Only." The later was described by no less an authority than MAD MAGAZINE as having thespian talents "somewhere between Erik Estrada and a gravy ladle").

However, these gals comes off as Meryl Streep next to the WORST Bond Girl of them all: Denise Richards, aka Dr.(?!) Christmas Jones in "The World Is Not Enough" (1999).

Yes, the former Mrs. Charlie Sheen is so laughingly inept as the nuclear physicist(?!) helping Pierce Brosnan save the world from a psycho/meanie/terrorist (Robert Carlyle) that her very presence stops the movie cold.

In fact, Denise is so stilted, it's enough to make the sleep walking  performance of Barbra Bach in "The Spy Who Loved Me" seem positively manic in comparison.

Part of the problem is the screenwriters have created the character of Dr. Jones to be about as skimpy as her wardrobe. The other problem is poor Denise herself, who's acting talent was never the foundation of her career, so to speak. Thus, whenever Denise is on screen, she can only manage to do two things: yell her lines at the top of her lungs (so we know she's UNDER STRESS) or speak in a flat monotone (so we know she's SERIOUS).

007 first meets his prospective cuddlemate as she casually strips out of her hazardous materials suit and reveals her regular uniform of short-shorts and a haler top.

"Ms. Jones?" Bond inquires.

"Dr. Jones," she firmly corrects him. "Christmas Jones. And don't tell me any jokes--I've heard them all."

Obviously, Dr. Jones is meant to be a cool, competent, no-nonsense professional who has little time for players like James Bond. That's why it's a little disconcerting when Jones is assisting James in some high-tech bomb defusing and shouts, "You wanna put that in English for those of us who don't speak spy?" Later, when extras notice she and 007 racing around and wonder what all the fuss is about, Dr. Jones helpfully explains, "We had a nuclear bomb stolen this morning!"

Perhaps Richards' best worst moment is when she muses aloud, "The world's greatest terrorist running around with six kilos of weapon's grade plutonium can't be good."

How right you are, doctor.

Then she demonstrates her exemplary professionalism by announcing, "I gotta get it back or someones gonna have my ass."

Dr. Jones is suppose to sound tough and plain spoken here, but instead comes off like a high school senior racing home from a kegger, hoping her parents haven't noticed she's blown her curfew.

After a few close calls, James and Jones emerge triumphant. Somewhere between the car crashes, explosions and under-water sequences, 007 and Christmas fall in lust or something. Once again the script demands this, because Brosnan and Richards generate zero chemistry. In fact, Pierce had more of a connection with unhinged oil heiress Electra King (Sophie Marceau) than he ever did with Jones. Meanwhile, "The World Is Not Enough" ends with Bond and the good doctor sipping champagne and then doing the nasty. "Who said Christmas only comes comes once a year..." murmurs Bond suavely.

Oh, James!

1 comment:

  1. THANK YOU ... for recognizing arguably the worst performance by an actress I’ve ever seen. Richards aspires to reach porn star levels of acting competence. For the most part I’m not bothered by poor acting (it’s sometimes the most entertaining), but she actually seems to have wandered into the film from some high school production. It’s my go-to example whenever I discuss bad acting.