Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2006. United Artists, , Mr. Mudd. Screenplay by Daniel Clowes, based on his comic story. Cinematography by Jamie Anderson. Produced by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith. Music by David Kitay. Production Design by Howard Cummings. Costume Design by Betsy Heimann. Film Editing by Robert Hoffman.
Terry Zwigoff returns to the world of conflicted teenagers that he exposed so well in Ghost World but with inferior results. Max Minghella plays an aspiring artist who finds himself among a quirky collection of highly expressive students at the art college he has been dreaming about for years. Unfortunately, Zwigoff only mines the personalities of these characters for the first third of the movie, after which point it descends into a mess of a coming-of-age romance between Minghella and the nude model (Sophia Myles) whose photo drew him to the school in the first place. John Malkovich is fun as our protagonist’s exacting mentor, while Jim Broadbent does a terrific job of playing a starving artist whose devotion to his passion has driven him to insanity. Anjelica Huston has an underused cameo as an art history professor, and she’s marvelous, but Daniel Clowes’s script includes an unnecessary subplot about a serial killer and then ends, as Ghost World does, with the use of Found Art as supplemented expression, but without the emotional resonance that made that film so good.