Indie Classics: Schizopolis
Schizopolis, Steven Soderbergh’s unrated and hilarious film begins with an introduction to the film by Soderbergh. In this, he states his belief that every man, woman, and child should see this film, not during some matinee half-price sort of deal, but at full ticket price. He continues by saying that if any audience member doesn’t understand the film, it is their own fault and no fault of his, and they should see it again and again until they understand it fully. He follows this up by saying no expense was taken to create the film, and as such the introduction was not profit-oriented.
Funny, right? The film is a commentary about modern-day society, communication, and all of our schizophrenic tendencies. The 1996 film features Steven Soderbergh (writer and director of the film) as the lead characters Fletcher Munson as well as Dr. Jeffrey Korchek. The film contains such characters as nameless numberhead man, attractive woman #2, Elmo Oxygen, a psychotic exterminator that seduces lonely housewives and leaves pictures of his genitals on their cameras, and T. Azimuth Schwitters, the founder and spokesperson of the self-help company that Fletcher works for: Eventualism.
Fletcher is lethargic and emotionally detached from his wife, spending most of his time attempting to write a convincing speech for T. Azimuth Schwitters for an upcoming event, only to find that his dentist identical double, Dr. Jeffery Korchek, is having an affair with his wife! Korchek asks Mrs. Munson (Betsy Brantley) to leave her husband for him, which she does, but only after Korchek falls for attractive woman #2, one of his patients (played also by Betsy Brantley) and no longer wants her.
These people live in a world where the state of Rhode Island is sold for $18 million to relieve the national debt with plans to put a roof over it and turn it into the world’s largest shopping mall; a world in which a woman is named Final Arbiter of Taste & Justice, finally ending God’s struggle to set the world straight. “Eileen Harriet Palglace will have final say on every known subject, including who should be put to death, what clothes everyone should wear, what movies suck, and whether bald men who grow ponytails should still get laid.”
Insightful, clever, subtle at times, confusing, and absolutely impossible to explain, Schizopolis is hilarious, even if I can’t really pinpoint what it is about, what could compel anyone to make this film, or why its funny.