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Masked and Anonymous (2003)

Would you reach out your hand to save a drowning man if you thought he might pull you in?

Rating: 2/10

Running Time: 107 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12


Bob Dylan: musician; poet; horrendously bad actor. So it makes perfect sense that, in a movie featuring the likes of Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Luke Wilson, Christian Slater, Ed Harris and a host of other well-known leading men among its cast, the ever-expressionless Dylster gets top billing. Hmmmm.

Actually, Dylzo co-wrote the thing with director Larry Charles, so it’s perhaps not all that surprising that he nabbed the lead role after all. Come to think of it, it also sheds a bit of light on why the whole film is so relentlessly incoherent – I mean, come on, how many of us have ever listened to a Bob Dylan song and genuinely had a clue what the guy was croaking on about?

It’s the tale of Jack Fate, a grizzled, wrinkly, throaty old geetar-man who some see as a legend but really hasn’t done much of any interest for a while (so a real stretch for Dyllers on the acting front, then). In an un-named revolution-struck nation, which we’re left to assume is probably supposed to be somewhere in South America, a couple of untrustworthy promoters (Goodman and Jessica Lange) arrange for him to be let out of prison to play a benefit concert and line their own pockets in the process.

What follows is self-indulgent, pretentious, and utterly, utterly pointless. A fine musician Dylan may be, but he’s long-since completed the transition into outright parody of himself and here he mumbles and grumbles his way through a series of bizarre meetings with some even more bizarre characters. Aside from his monotone performance, the man looks frighteningly frail and you really have to wonder whether he’s in any fit state to appear even in a cameo, let alone as the crux of the whole project. At one point we’re even asked to believe that he’s able to come out victorious in a fist-fight with a man who’s clearly double his size and strength – that’s how ridiculous this film is.

The rest of the cast (including Bridges as an overly-intense journo, Harris as a black-and-white minstrel, and an animal-loving Kilmer) are a determined old bunch, desperately delivering their lines and performances with the sort of conviction normally reserved for material that actually makes some degree of sense. No doubt appearing in a Bob Dylan movie seemed like a good idea at the time – but the words “back” and “fire” spring instantly to mind.

It's Got: A good “Man Eating Chicken” joke. You can probably guess how it works.

It Needs: Someone to give Bob a good feed.

DVD Extras Cast interviews, extra musical performances from Dylan and his band, deleted scenes, a trailer, and director’s commentary. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10


Thank you for the music, Mr Dylan – you should definitely stick to what you know.