Last Movie Outpost is international. Not only trans-Atlantic, but we have visitors from all over the world. Now contributors, too. From the Netherlands (don’t call it Holland!), land of people of above average height, and who love to cycle everywhere, comes Leopardo. He’s a long time Outposter and his International Retro Review of Do Not Disturb is his second submission to the site.
Do Not Disturb
Hello everybody, thanks for indulging me and reading my review for Flodder a while back. I did not get completely discouraged by your reactions in the comments, so I thought, after reviewing a pretty decent and entertaining Dick Maas movie from the Netherlands, why not review a truly terrible one next?
Of course, “good” or “bad” are relative terms, so if you compare Do Not Disturb to the average “bad” Hollywood movie, it might actually be worse than that.
This movie takes itself way too seriously, focuses way too much on style and not enough on substance, and makes some very basic mistakes that, for a professional like Dick Maas, almost seem intentional.
I’ll try to keep this one light on spoilers, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. It’s an action thriller with some attempts at a few twists that barely pay off. There is one action sequence that is pulled off nicely, a lot of stuff that is supposed to be suspenseful but isn’t, and a bunch of famous actors questioning their life choices.
What The Hell Is This Supposed To Be?
My best guess is that, Do Not Disturb (aka Silent Witness) is Dick Maas’ attempt to make a movie that moviegoers might mistake for a Hollywood blockbuster based purely on the cast and the poster. He might have gotten away with it, too, if the movie were slightly better. If it were a little better it still wouldn’t be good, but it might be mediocre enough to get noticed. As it is, it is just so forgettable.
The main cast consists of William Hurt, Jennifer Tilly, Denis Leary and Michael Chiklis. Yes, really. Three MCU/Marvel stars, and the most recognizable voice in Hollywood next to Fran Drescher, star in what might possibly be the low point in each of their respective careers.
William Hurt is Walter. Executive of a US based pharmaceutical company. He is on a business trip to Amsterdam. Jennifer Tilly is Cathryn, his wife. Is also there. Francesca Brown is Melissa, their daughter. 10 years old and mute since early childhood. Communicates through a writing pad around her neck.
Michael Chiklis is Hartman, Walter’s client. Denis Leary is Simon, a homeless person. Yes I do realize I am giving first names for some characters, and last names for others. IMDB only lists one or the other and I don’t feel like looking them up, not for this movie.
Walter, his wife Cathryn and their mute daughter Melissa visit Amsterdam for plot reasons, as everything that drives the plot could have been prevented by a phone call. Wandering around their hotel, Melissa witnesses the murder of a man called VanDerMolen. In a true crime against the Dutch language, he has no spaces in his last name and therefore deserves everything coming to him.
The murderers witness Melissa witnessing their murder, one of which is Hartman. Hartman is actually Walter’s client, and VanDerMolen (ugh) had to die because he was planning to reveal the dangerous side-effects of some kind of medicine that Hartman has put a lot of money in. That is marketed through Walter’s company. She runs.
Along the way she meets colourful characters like Simon the homeless man, Billy Boy Manson the rock star, a tin man and a cowardly lion. I might have mixed up some movies, it’s been a while since I was subjected to this one.
It all ends in an honestly well executed chase sequence.
So, basically, in essence, it’s no worse than plenty of B-movie fare, on paper. You might ask, what went wrong?
So, What Went Wrong?
I knew you’d ask that. I think it’s Dick Maas overplaying his hand. His movies are always somewhat Hollywood-esque. Especially his thrillers. It plays out really well in, for example, Amsterdamned, but that was much more a serial killer mystery, not an action thriller.
Amsterdamned had some good gore, a nice boat chase, and actual suspense. Do Not Disturb wants it all – suspense and action, and doesn’t really deliver either.
But it’s main problems are the characters, and I mean nearly all of them. The casting of Francesca Brown as Melissa is fine. She just has to look scared and since she doesn’t have any dialogue my biggest problem with the cast doesn’t apply to her.
Because, phoning it in as they are, William Hurt and Jennifer Tilly speak US English, which is fine. They’re supposed to be from the US. But then why is everybody else speaking the same generic English? Hartman and VanDerMolen (ugh) are supposed to be Dutch, but they don’t even have a hint of an accent to indicate that.
Dutch secondary characters played by Dutch actors also always speak English, even to each other, with varying degrees of accuracy in their pronunciations. There is no Dutch being spoken anywhere in Amsterdam, and while this may be accurate now, it wasn’t in 1999.
My guess is that this was Maas marketing himself to an international audience, hence all the English, to see if he could follow the likes of Paul Verhoeven to Hollywood. For a Dutch audience expecting a Dutch movie, it’s confusing as hell and a truly baffling choice to make.
Special mention of the stupidest character by far: Billy Boy Manson, played by Michael Goorjian. The Dutch have a reputation for being tolerant, so when this obvious Marilyn Manson knockoff tries to abuse Melissa, he is amazed that this is frowned upon. It’s a reference to the Dutch marijuana policy I think, where producing it is illegal but selling and using is tolerated (though technically also illegal). This means it’s illegal but nobody cares if you do it. I’m not sure what point Maas would be making? You’ll get that a lot watching this movie.
I can’t really recommend this movie. It’s a dime-a-dozen plot with a bunch of American actors standing around waiting to wrap up the day so they can go to the coffee shop. It has some awfully cliché dialogue and a pretty OK chase if you can keep your eyes open until the end.
I guess you could watch Do Not Disturb as an example of how-not-to-make-a-movie.