Please don't see Winter's Tale. It's the worst movie ever.

Review: Winter’s Tale Is The Worst Movie I Have Seen Or Ever Will See

March 13, 2014 / by / 27 Comments

Absolutely not

Guys, this movie is so terrible.

It is with great reluctance that I am writing this review of the movie Winter’s Tale. The movie is so horrifically, unconscionably terrible that I’m not sure my words could ever do it enough of an injustice. Honestly, it is so fucking awful that I don’t know where to begin.

I guess, then, that I will start from the beginning. Last night, I sat down and watched an illegal, Korean-subtitled stream of Winter’s Tale on my computer. I knew this movie wouldn’t be good enough to warrant a $9 movie ticket, or even a $6 matinee ticket. I was right about that. What I wasn’t right about was the decision to watch this movie in the first place. You see, I could have spent 110 minutes putting my genitals in a meat grinder. I could have made numerous calls to acquaintances arranging my live burial, or I could have doused myself in kerosene and died what is rumored to be the most gruesome death of all. Those would have been great ways to spend 110 minutes compared to watching Winter’s Tale.

A friend of mine once pointed out to me that the worst thing you could ever do is put a toothpick under your toenail and then kick a door. By my calculations, I could have done that at least 200 times in the time it took me to watch the travesty of a film called Winter’s Tale. And you know what? I would have been much happier. My toe would probably be in more pain, but I wouldn’t have to live knowing that I spent two hours of my life in literally the worst way imaginable.

I’m sorry, I’m getting carried away by my emotions. I’ll talk about the movie. But let me be clear: I plan to unleash every single spoiler in the following paragraphs, because I don’t want you to see this movie. I’m not a hero, I’m just a human who cares enough about his fellow humans not to give them any incentive to watch it. It’s bad. Guys, it is so goddamn bad.

The movie opens with two intertwining narratives to set up the story, except they’re confusing, so much so that I actually had to check to see if this Korean web-rip had started me halfway through the movie. This whole montage is voiced over with a useless quotation about love, destiny, and the “inner light.” Actually, this scene is very important in setting the tone, clueing in the viewer early on that they are in for a hellish two hours.

Here’s the basic backstory: A man, wife and child are attempting to migrate to the United States from Central or Eastern Europe (judging by the accent), but are turned away at Ellis Island because the man has a pulmonary condition(?), and god damnit, we won’t have any immigrants with pulmonary conditions.1 So the couple hop on a boat back to Shithole Europe, but along the way, find a model boat in the basement of the boat (standard issue for turn-of-the-century boats), and send their child back to New York on a boat like he’s fucking Moses or something.2 Let me reiterate this: the couple felt better about their child’s chances of success as an orphan in industrial-era New York City than they did as a normal child in Eastern Europe. Conclusion: Eastern Europe c. 1900 was a bad place to live. But hey, you want to know what’s worse? Watching Winter’s Tale.

We then flash forward to 1914 and find Colin Farrell’s character, Peter Lake (later verified to be the model-boat baby all grown up), being pursued by a mob of men in suits and bowler hats and shit led by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). He’s trapped in an alleyway, about to be killed slowly and torturously, when all the sudden: Surprise! Motherfucking horse in the alleyway. And guess what? It can fucking fly.

Colin Farrell realizes he must leave New York City, maybe because he knows Pearly can’t leave the city of New York because of reasons, or maybe because the people are just so aloof and honestly he should never have left Fort Wayne in the first place. But as he’s gearing up to leave town, his magical fucking flying horse stands steadfast, refusing to move. Naturally, he takes this as a sign that he should rob one last house before he leaves (Oh yeah, did I mention? He’s a professional thief, because of romance and things). He then says, “Don’t know who’s a bigger fool, a horse who won’t listen to his master or a master who listens to his horse.” It’s pretty clear what happened here: the director of the film, who if I recall correctly is Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, thought of this little witticism and just had to put it in the movie, even though it is completely out of character. Although it does beg an interesting question: who is a bigger fool? Instinct says the horse, but then again the horse can fucking fly, so I guess the real idiot is me, for spending two hours of my life watching Winter’s Tale.

As he’s robbing the safe in the house, someone starts playing Brahms on the piano. As it turns out, it’s a nice young woman with a little ‘sumption ‘sumption (Jessica Brown Findlay). That isn’t sexual, she has tuberculosis, but I thought it would be funny to make it sound sexual, because this is a terrible movie that deserves to be trivialized. Of course, he strikes up a conversation with this young woman, she makes him tea, and then he falls in love with her. Deep down inside, he’s really just a nice guy who happens to steal from and occasionally kill people. Even the most evil humans are decent at heart, haven’t you heard?

It was about here that I realized that the heroine of the movie bears a slight resemblance to Lorde, which is funny because life is a meaningless jest, and if we can’t laugh at the terrible things, we’ll only cry.

We get a little more backstory here: Apparently, little orphan boy Peter Lake was raised in New York by Pearly, who recognized his unheard-of midichlorian count and realized he could be a great thief. The two are now at odds because Peter preferred the type of stealing that didn’t involve killing people, whereas Pearly loves blood, and mentions this constantly. So now Pearly wants to kill Peter.

Pearly uses his magical Russell Crowe powers to discover that Peter Lake has fallen for Consumption Girl (whose name is Beverly Penn, by the way, but I’m going to continue calling her Consumption Girl), and tells his men to find the girl. They find the girl, and Pearly is going to kill her, but then Peter Lake shows up on his magical fucking horse and saves her because he’s just so desperately in love with her and her perpetual fever. A great chase scene ensues, ending when they reach a cliff and Peter Lake, Consumption Girl and Magic Fucking Horse jump off, and MFH wings them to the safety of a frozen river, which they use to travel to Consumption Girl’s family home up in, I don’t know, fucking Westchester or something.

It was about here when I realized that there would inevitably be a sex scene later in the movie. I spent the rest of the movie dreading that moment, and when it happened, I hated it just as much as I thought I would.

Anyway, now Pearly is still in New York, trying to figure out how to kill Consumption Girl because he’s worried Peter Lake will use his miracle on her to save her life.3 He gets drunk in a bar, sadly says to himself, “I always wanted wings,” then pays a visit to his good buddy, Lucifer (Will Smith).

Before I move on with the plot, it is my duty as a human being to share a couple thoughts on Will Smith playing Lucifer. Let’s think for a moment here about how many people could play an excellent Lucifer. Steve Buscemi, Louis CK, the guy who plays Stabler in Law and Order, Gwyneth Paltrow — the list goes on. But some casting director out there chose Will Smith. The actor whose typecast characteristics are “hip” and “cool” is playing Lucifer. They could have chosen Mel Gibson or Matthew McConaughey or Dakota Fanning, but they chose Will Smith. I swear, it’s like they are actively trying to make this the worst movie ever made. It’s like they are begging me to write these things.

Pearly asks Lucifer if he can have an exception to his magical powers so he can travel outside New York to kill Consumption Girl. After an unnecessarily lengthy and terribly-acted monologue, Lucifer denies him permission. It’s no sweat, though, because Pearly happens to have a buddy who’s an angel and owes him a favor, so the angel can kill her. This makes sense, because angels and demons are always working together to help each other out. In fact, if you look closely enough in the background of this scene, you can see director Akiva Goldsman vigorously masturbating onto a bonfire consisting of every theological work ever written. It’s one of those cool “see it and you can’t unsee it” things, like the boner priest in The Little Mermaid.

Back in upstate New York, Peter Lake has endeared himself to Consumption Girl’s family by befriending her younger sister Willow and helping her father Isaac prevent the furnace from blowing up the house, because the threat of a huge explosion was really the only thing between this movie and unending critical acclaim.4 They go to a ball, like the dancing kind, not the testicular kind, and he enjoys a dance with Consumption Girl. This is stupid for two reasons: first, orphans don’t know how to fucking waltz, everybody knows that, and second, the morally ambiguous angel poisons Consumption Girl’s drink while she’s dancing. The poison will kill her, but not before…….

SEX SCENE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep, thieving Peter Lake delivers a sausage pizza to Consumption Girl’s thirsting loins. Sounds terrible, right? Nope. Terrible doesn’t even begin to describe it. Here’s why this was a horrifically uncomfortable sex scene:

  • Since she has tuberculosis, she’s sleeping in a tent on the roof. The sexual tension begins to build when he watches her naked silhouette change clothes from outside the house. HE’S SPORTING A CHUBBY FROM WATCHING HER THROUGH THE WALLS OF HER QUARANTINE ZONE.
  • Of course, they can’t embark on the bone train anywhere they’ll be seen, so guess where they get freaky? The quarantine tent. He bangs her in the tuberculosis tent.
  • Earlier in the movie, her father specifically instructed Peter Lake not to sleep in the tent. So while this sex scene happens, you’re not only terrified of the potential of seeing Colin Farrell’s O-face, but you’re also worried that her dad might walk in and see Peter Lake balls deep in his terminally ill daughter.

Fortunately, the sex scene ends without parental intervention. Then Consumption Girl dies. Donezo. It was probably because of the poison in her drink, but we shouldn’t eliminate the possibility that Colin Farrell has a 14-inch mastodong that punctured her lungs.

On second thought, let’s go ahead and strike the Colin Farrell Mastodong theory. It was probably the poison that killed her.

Peter Lake and Consumption Girl’s family travel back to New York City to bury Consumption Girl in a graveyard. Obviously, Pearly finds him in New York City and traps him on a bridge. Pearly headbutts him four times and then pushes him off the bridge into the river, because that’s how you kill people.

Guess what happens next?

No, really. Just guess. Take a shot in the dark.

2014, motherfuckers! As in, the movie fast-forwards an entire goddamn century to modern day. Peter Lake and Pearly are the same age as they had been a century before, except Peter Lake now looks like a member of ZZ Top c. 1980, and he also has no memory of his previous life, because *plot twist* he’s actually Jason Bourne. Just kidding, he isn’t Jason Bourne, but I wish he was, because the Bourne movies have entertainment value and interesting plots, unlike Winter’s Tale, which has tuberculosis sex scenes and bastardized theological lessons.

So Peter Lake is now a person roaming around the city with no memory, and all he does is draw pictures of his redheaded paramour. He’s really getting into his artistic phase. Pearly can feel the imbalance in the force, or something, so he knows that Peter Lake is back. He’s in shock, though. How could it be? I headbutted him four times, and then he fell almost a hundred feet into a fairly deep river! 

As Peter Lake is creating another visual opus in Central Park, he bumps into a child, Abby, and her mother, Virginia. This comes in useful, because shortly thereafter, he meets the mother again, and she helps him find records and pictures that help reconstruct his memories, kind of like in Memento but minus the being-a-good-movie part of Memento. She introduces him to Willow Penn, the young girl he befriended a hundred years earlier, and they have a nice reunion.5 Math would say that Willow is around 110 years old at this point, but magic dictates that Willow is still sprightly enough to be editor-in-chief of a major publication. I had been getting worried; there hadn’t been an egregiously unreasonable plothole in probably 3 or 4 minutes, so I was glad the movie delivered.

This is the part of the movie where I start to forget what happens, since I was poking my eyeballs with white-hot needles to distract myself from the real pain I was feeling from watching this movie attempt to find a resolution. Virginia invites Peter Lake over for dinner because she thinks she’ll enjoy his 14-inch mastodong company. At her apartment, Virginia tells him that Abby has cancer and is basically circling the drain, at which point Peter realizes that this girl is the intended use of his miracle. Pearly is chasing them now, so they run up to the roof (where there is ruefully no quarantine tent to serve as a stabbin’ cabin), and guess who shows up on the roof? MAGIC FUCKING HORSE. 

Peter Lake, Abigail and Virginia ride MFH to Consumption Girl’s old family home in upstate New York, since that’s the only place he can save Abby. Unfortunately, Pearly and his henchmen follow them, because Pearly realized Peter Lake was made immortal by Consumption Girl’s miracle, and the only way to kill him would be to ask Lucifer to make them both temporarily mortal. By some oversight that entirely escapes me, Pearly and his men arrive in cars at the same time MFH & Co. arrive by air. To clarify: Yes, this movie implies that driving through New York City doesn’t take any longer than flying a beeline path. At this point, I just don’t even know what to say, besides the typical “this is the worst movie ever,” which I’ve said several times already.

In a moment that was admittedly kind of cool, MFH attacks the icy river on which Pearly’s henchmen are standing, killing them all and setting up for a battle royale between Pearly and Peter Lake, which was a huge, entirely unpredictable plot twist. They fight for a bit, Pearly kicks Peter’s ass, and then Peter stabs Pearly in the neck a couple times, and Pearly dies. Peter saves Abby from cancer using his inner miracle, then rides his Magic Fucking Horse into the stars and becomes a star right next to the star that Consumption Girl became. Did they take this plot device from The Princess and The Frog? Why yes, it appears they did.

I could add a few closing notes reminding you about how bad this movie is, but if you’ve read this far, I probably don’t need to say anything more. There is, quite literally, nothing good about this movie. It is so bad. It is so, so bad. I’m a person who tends to exaggerate, but this really is the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

See, here’s the thing that just disturbs me. Somebody, at some point in recent history, had an idea. They thought to themselves: “I should write a story that combines the sob story of A Walk to Remember with the bizarre religious idiosyncrasies of Dogma, and then throw in bits and pieces of Pride and Prejudice, Contagion, and Gangs of New York. Maybe a dash of Far And Away for good measure. And you know what? Instead of being drawn and quartered during the Super Bowl Halftime Show as they should have been, this person is now sitting on millions of dollars. They have more money than you, reader, and they have more money than me. The worst thing is that they feel that they’ve created something great, a piece of art. It’s like if someone grabbed a pile of their own feces, smeared it on a canvas, and sold it to the Met for five million dollars. It just isn’t fair. The only thing I can take solace in is the fact that, instead of paying money to see this movie, the only people I really supported were Korean web-rippers. And compared to the sick, soulless bastard that thought Winter’s Tale was a movie worth making, those Korean web-rippers are some goddamned heroes.

Please don’t see Winter’s Tale.