THE SINGING DETECTIVE

Content -3
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: October 24, 2003

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Robin
Wright Penn, Mel Gibson,
Jeremy Northam, Katie Holmes,
Carla Cugino, Adrien Brody,
and Jon Polito

Genre: Comedy/Film Noir/Musical

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder THE SINGING DETECTIVE
is a reworked version of a
six-part British television
miniseries broadcast on PBS in
the U.S.A. in the mid 1980s.
It’s a redemptive tale with
a humanist worldview that
tells how a troubled man,
suffering from a terrible
illness, works through the
demons plaguing his life. It
contains, however, explicit
sexual scenes, nudity and
strong foul language, and a
bizarre plot, that, combined,
is inappropriate for moral
audiences. Robert Downey, Jr.,
plays Dan Dark, a mystery
novelist whose latest outbreak
of a crippling skin disease
has landed him in the
hospital. Extremely bitter
about his circumstances, and
his failed marriage, Dark
begins hallucinating scenes
from his novel, THE SINGING
DETECTIVE, interspersed with
scenes from his childhood,
which suffered from a broken
marriage and tragedy.
Eventually, the hospital sends
him to an eccentric
psychiatrist named Dr.
Gibbons, played by Mel Gibson,
who dares to confront Dark’s
tortured mind. The movie
version of this tale contains
bizarre paranoid visions of
murder, sex, music, and a
dysfunctional family life.
Characters often break out
into song, lip-synching to
1950s tunes, in hallucinations
from Dan’s fevered brain.
This gives a strange nostalgic
quality to the story. As a
child, Dan goes through
terrible traumas. For example,
he accidentally sees his
mother cheating on his father,
who kicks her out of the
house. Later, in Los Angeles,
Dan’s mother turns to
prostitution to make ends
meet. This tragic past gets
re-worked in the visions from
Dan’s novel, which concerns
the murder investigation of a
prostitute. Back in the
hospital, visits from Dan’s
estranged wife turn into angry
paranoid delusions about her
stealing his novel and selling
it to Hollywood. The
psychiatrist in the tale helps
Dan unravel all these twisted
situations. At the end of the
story, Dan is cured of his
skin disease, which is partly,
if not mostly, psychological.
He even re-unites with his
wife, resulting in a positive,
moral, and redemptive
ending. The Bible tells us
that human beings are both
body and spirit. Within that
dual humanity, we can suffer
“psychological” trouble
that affects our mental
activities, our emotional
stability, our moral
conscience, and our
relationship with God. Also,
the relationship or connection
between our bodies and our
spirits can be disturbed by
physical traumas and spiritual
problems. The complete answer
to such troubles, traumas, and
problems, however, is not
humanist psychology or medical
science, though they may help
us somewhat; it is turning to
God, Jesus Christ, and God’s
Word. In THE SINGING
DETECTIVE, the hero is helped
by humanist psychology and
medical science, but the movie
never really deals with the
hero’s spiritual trauma and
his own sinful nature. Also,
the movie contains plenty of
strong foul language and
explicit sex scenes with male
nudity and implied female
nudity. There is also some
violence and very gross images
of the hero’s debilitating
skin disease. The filmmakers
could have told this tale
without all of this graphic
content. The direction by
Keith Gordon is also kind of
flat and is hampered by the
story’s unlikable, bitter
hero. On the other hand,
Robert Downey, Jr., gives a
fine performance as the
troubled hero, as do Mel
Gibson as the sympathetic
psychiatrist and Robin Wright
Penn as the concerned wife. In
the final analysis, the
filmmakers also should have
added some spiritual,
Christian insights to delve
even deeper and more
accurately into the theme of
psychological trauma. In fact,
it would be interesting to see
a Christian filmmaker tackle
such a subject in a thorough,
provocative, entertaining
manner. Please address your
comments to: David Dinerstein
and Ruth
Vitale Co-Presidents Paramount
Classics A Division of
Paramount Pictures 5555
Melrose Avenue Chevalier
Building Los Angeles, CA
90038 Phone: (323)
956-2000 Fax: (323)
862-1012 Website:
www.paramountclassics.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 109 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Classics

Director: Keith Gordon

Executive Producer:

Producer: Mel Gibson, Steven Haft, and
Bruce Davey EXECUTIVE
PRODUCER: Stan Wlodkowski

Writer: Dennis Potter BASED ON THE
TELEVISION SERIES BY: Dennis
Potter

Address Comments To:

Content:

(H, C, B, LLL, VV, SSS, NN, A, D, MM) Humanist worldview validating psychological introspection with some vague Christian references and a redemptive outcome that re-unites an estranged married couple; at least 31 obscenities, five strong profanities, five light profanities, vomiting, and man has gross skin disease; action violence includes a couple gun battles, murders, woman gets shot, woman drowned, man killed, man hits prostitute, and images of police fishing woman’s dead body out of water; extreme sexual content such as explicit scenes of depicted fornication and adultery, boy’s mother turns to prostitution, and man has masturbatory fantasy with nurse; upper and rear male nudity and implied female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, paranoia, uncontrollable anger, bitterness, accusations turn out to be untrue, and very rude behavior.

GENRE: Comedy/Film Noir/Musical

H

C

B

LLL

VV

SSS

NN

A

D

MM

Summary:

THE SINGING DETECTIVE is a bizarre, unique tale of a detective novelist, who has become tortured by a tragic past and a debilitating skin disease. The movie’s slightly moral, redemptive ending cannot overcome the movie’s humanist outlook on personal trauma, or its strong foul language, explicit sex scenes, and very gross images of the hero’s terrible skin disease.

Review:

THE SINGING DETECTIVE is a reworked version of a six-part British television miniseries broadcast on PBS in the U.S.A. in the mid 1980s. It’s a redemptive tale with a humanist worldview that tells how a troubled man, suffering from a terrible illness, works through the demons plaguing his life. It contains, however, explicit sexual scenes, nudity and strong foul language, and a bizarre plot, that, combined, is inappropriate for moral audiences.

Robert Downey, Jr., plays Dan Dark, a mystery novelist whose latest outbreak of a crippling skin disease has landed him in the hospital. Extremely bitter about his circumstances, and his failed marriage, Dark begins hallucinating scenes from his novel, THE SINGING DETECTIVE, interspersed with scenes from his childhood, which suffered from a broken marriage and tragedy. Eventually, the hospital sends him to an eccentric psychiatrist named Dr. Gibbons, played by Mel Gibson, who dares to confront Dark’s tortured mind.

The movie version of this tale contains bizarre paranoid visions of murder, sex, music, and a dysfunctional family life. Characters often break out into song, lip-synching to 1950s tunes, in hallucinations from Dan’s fevered brain. This gives a strange nostalgic quality to the story. As a child, Dan goes through terrible traumas. For example, he accidentally sees his mother cheating on his father, who kicks her out of the house. Later, in Los Angeles, Dan’s mother turns to prostitution to make ends meet. This tragic past gets re-worked in the visions from Dan’s novel, which concerns the murder investigation of a prostitute. Back in the hospital, visits from Dan’s estranged wife turn into angry paranoid delusions about her stealing his novel and selling it to Hollywood.

The psychiatrist in the tale helps Dan unravel all these twisted situations. At the end of the story, Dan is cured of his skin disease, which is partly, if not mostly, psychological. He even re-unites with his wife, resulting in a positive, moral, and redemptive ending.

The Bible tells us that human beings are both body and spirit. Within that dual humanity, we can suffer “psychological” trouble that affects our mental activities, our emotional stability, our moral conscience, and our relationship with God. Also, the relationship or connection between our bodies and our spirits can be disturbed by physical traumas and spiritual problems. The complete answer to such troubles, traumas, and problems, however, is not humanist psychology or medical science, though they may help us somewhat; it is turning to God, Jesus Christ, and God’s Word.

In THE SINGING DETECTIVE, the hero is helped by humanist psychology and medical science, but the movie never really deals with the hero’s spiritual trauma and his own sinful nature. Also, the movie contains plenty of strong foul language and explicit sex scenes with male nudity and implied female nudity. There is also some violence and very gross images of the hero’s debilitating skin disease. The filmmakers could have told this tale without all of this graphic content. The direction by Keith Gordon is also kind of flat and is hampered by the story’s unlikable, bitter hero. On the other hand, Robert Downey, Jr., gives a fine performance as the troubled hero, as do Mel Gibson as the sympathetic psychiatrist and Robin Wright Penn as the concerned wife.

In the final analysis, the filmmakers also should have added some spiritual, Christian insights to delve even deeper and more accurately into the theme of psychological trauma. In fact, it would be interesting to see a Christian filmmaker tackle such a subject in a thorough, provocative, entertaining manner.

Please address your comments to:

David Dinerstein and Ruth Vitale

Co-Presidents

Paramount Classics

A Division of Paramount Pictures

5555 Melrose Avenue

Chevalier Building

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone: (323) 956-2000

Fax: (323) 862-1012

Website: www.paramountclassics.com

SUMMARY: THE SINGING DETECTIVE is a bizarre, unique tale of a detective novelist, who has become tortured by a tragic past and a debilitating skin disease. The movie’s slightly moral, redemptive ending cannot overcome the movie’s humanist outlook on personal trauma, or its strong foul language, explicit sex scenes, and very gross images of the hero’s terrible skin disease.

In Brief: