Robert Rodriguez and Troublemaker Studios put on a fabulously fun campy romp that tackles relevant political questions, particularly immigration laws and enforcement tactics by conservative politicians like Senator John McLaughlin, played by Robert Deniro, a character clearly drawn from lines left by the last election. Actors like Don Johnson, Steven Seagal (avec hair piece), Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Cheech Marin (avec ganja), and Michelle Rodriguez round out this action packed cast as well as the star--Machete himself--Danny Trejo.
I laughed so hard I could have cried: Lindsay Lohan bares her boobs during an incestuous threesome. Michelle Rodriguez bares her mid-riff (and amazing abs) while wearing an eye patch and shooting a bazooka. Don Johnson has a Tex-ass accent, long side-burns and leads a group of border vigilantes while driving a, yes, you guessed it, Hummer, and wearing a cowboy hat. Jessica Alba is nude in the shower--nothing more needs to be said there. And ridiculous amounts of copious fake blood and graphic machete-slashing of body parts lead the charge to hilarity. A more perfect 21st century parody of our parodic lives, one could not find!
Entertainment Weekly uses the term "Mexploitation" when describing Rodriguez's latest lampoon. The roots of the exploitation genre began in the 60's and 70's with sexploitation specialist, Russ Meyer, whose naughty nudies always had hardcore issues at the heart of every sex-matter. Other popular takes on the exploitation genre include Blaxploitation films like Shaft (1971) and Blacula (1972). As with Machete, Russ Meyer and other exploitation film directors, used the medium to empower the "exploited" subject--and the irony is, the subject wasn't being "exploited" by the director, but was already the subject of social exploitation. Russ Meyer was even called a feminist because of his strong, empowered, if not nude, female characters--similar to using someone like Sarah Michelle Gellar to play Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Lucy Lawless to play Xena, Warrior Princess. Exploitation films were the beginning of the postmodern parody. And with writer/director/producer, Robert Rodriguez--one of the unquestionable kings of 21st century exploitation films--Machete is no exception!
September 3rd was the release date for Machete. But the theatre was practically empty when I went on September 4th. Like with Grindhouse (the origin of Machete, one of the fake trailers in the 3-hour magnum opus by Rodriguez and Tarantino), mass audiences don't always seem to appreciate the satirical nature of the exploitation genre. We've been programmed to be politically-correct in the States and so, there's a definite discomfort among audiences when it comes to parodying people of different cultural backgrounds or ethniticies, like Robert Downey, Jr.'s character in Tropic Thunder or Borat's portrayal of...well, pretty much everyone. Television shows like South Park and Family Guy use the same kinds of exploitation techniques, but because audiences can watch (and react) in the privacy of their own homes, the medium affords the luxury of a comfortable (and comforting) anonymity that going to a public movie theatre simply cannot provide.
That being said: Go see MACHETE. See it more than once. And laugh out loud when you go, even if the other people in the theatre don't. And why should you do what I say? Because the boss says so. Who's the boss (...sorry Tony Danza, it ain't you...)? MACHETE!
MACHETE earns a well-deserved 10/10 on the Housel-scale.
PS: Robert Rodriguez, if you ever need a crazy, campy, pop culture professor-turned-writer on your team at Troublemaker (my middle name, btw), give me a jingle!!!