A 1999 movie starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt based on t …
Penn & Teller Get Killed is a 1989 dark comedy film directed by Arthur Penn starring magicians Penn & Teller. The duo play themselves, and the plot involves them in a satirical account of what the audience would perhaps imagine the pair doing … see full wiki
There are times when you wonder how films are greenlit based on how bad they are, but once in awhile you see a film that you wonder how it got green lit because there is some bizarre brilliance behind the film. Penn & Teller have been famous magicians for years. They brought their show off-Broadway, moved it to Vegas, and recently have become the poster boys for atheism and skepticism through their Showtime series “Bullshit.” At one point though the duo decided to movie into feature films with their debut feature “Penn & Teller Get Killed.” Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either until a few days ago. I decided to watch the film because I’m a fan of the duos acts and shows, but judging from the title I assumed the movie was going to be very self-indulgent and showy. And it was.
So wait...what am I doing making it the DVD of the month? Well, because there aren’t too many movies like it. The story is pretty lite: Penn announces on live TV that he wishes someone would try and kill him. In todays age where psychos watch TV in the most bizarre fashion, it should come as no surprise that to contemplate this is a very dangerous thing to do. The duo goes on with life though, going from show to show with their friend Carlotta (Caitlin Clarke), spending most of their free time playing practical jokes on each other. These jokes are the highlight of the film and arguably the real reason to watch the film. Penn & Teller have such a strange sense of humor that this movie tends to be enjoyable even when there isn’t a whole lot happening.
A scene where Teller keeps Penn from getting through the airport terminal is both inspired and hilarious at the same time. Likewise a scene shot entirely in black & white is so surreal, comes out of left field so unexpectedly, that I have to admire it all. What possessed Warner Bros. to green light such a film? This is not conventional film making in any way, and it’s lack of predictability most likely was a factor in the film bombing at the box office. What I find even more fascinating is that the film was directed by Oscar-nominated director Arthur Penn. You may remember two of his most famous films were “The Miracle Worker” and “Bonnie & Clyde.” To date this is the last film he made, proving once again flops are more dangerous to directors and women then they are with lead male actors.
What will likely stick with you long after the film is over is the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but needless to say it’s one of the darkest endings I’ve ever seen, made even more disturbing by the fact that it’s also pretty funny in a strange way. Make no doubt about it: This is black comedy and not everyone will be able to stomach it. But if you want something unconventional and interesting then “Penn & Teller Get Killed” should do the trick. Whether you love it or hate it will depend entirely on you. I just wish you luck in finding it. The VHS is long out of print and the film has never been released on DVD (a curious fact considering that Penn & Teller are more famous then ever thanks to their “Bullshit” show on Showtime).
What did you think of this review?