Boxing Helena [1993]

The movie Boxing Helena is probably better known for the court case that sprang from it than for itself. Kim Basinger was famously sued for violating her oral agreement to play the lead role; the jury ruled against her to the tune of almost $9 million. Those who felt the ruling was unjust have no better evidence than the movie itself--who in their right mind would agree to play a woman whose obsessively jealous lover cuts off her arms and legs to control her? Boxing Helena wants to be a penetrating investigation into the dark side of erotic desire. It doesn't succeed. But it does achieve the dubious but delightful status of being an entertaining disaster. Glory in Sherilyn Fenn's amazingly sincere attempt to take the script seriously! Thrill to the completely gratuitous sex scene between Julian Sands and a woman who doesn't appear at any other moment in the movie! Gaze, jaw agape, at the ridiculous ending! The movie features a wonderfully overwrought performance from Bill Paxton (A Simple Plan, Twister) and what is to date the last film appearance of Art Garfunkel. While Boxing Helena doesn't have the relentless ridiculousness of something like The Lonely Lady (with Pia Zadora!) or Showgirls, it has a giddiness that builds as it gets more and more improbable. Bad-movie fans will find it a delectable treat. --Bret Fetzer

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