"Worst Vomitous Mix of Hedonistic Excess and Cinematic Homage"


What You Need To Know:

BABYLON is a sexually explicit, satirical drama about Hollywood. Set from 1926 to 1934, the movie portrays the transition from silent movies to talkies in 1927 to 1929. It also portrays the development of the Hollywood Code of Decency from 1929 to 1934. After depicting a wild party at a Hollywood mansion in 1926, the story focuses on how the two situations affected an actor loosely patterned after the career of John Gilbert and an actress loosely based on Clara Bow, who was the biggest box office draw in 1928 and 1929. Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad, the actor, and Margot Robbie plays Nellie LaRoy, the actress.

Clocking in at more than three hours. BABYLON is an exercise in excess. It has more than 200 obscenities and profanities and many lewd, explicit images, especially in the big party scene that seems to last forever. Even when the movie creates a moving homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, the sequence goes on too long. BABYLON also contains two vomit-inducing scatological scenes, brief extreme violence and politically correct attacks on morality and decency.



Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Romantic worldview with very strong revisionist history of Hollywood from 1926 to 1934 and very strong hedonistic pagan behavior, plus strong politically correct elements that attacks the creation of the Hollywood Code of Decency, with a lesbian side character who sings a dirty song and is on the prowl to seduce a new female star, and with some light moral elements

Foul Language:
At least 185 obscenities (including many “f” words), four Jesus profanities, five GD profanities, eight light profanities, elephant in open truck unleashes bucketsful of diarrhea on man, woman vomits onto floor and onto man in suit

Brief extreme violence and some strong violence includes man eats a large live rat, image of blood splattering on wall when man is shot in the head offscreen, scenes of a large battle during the Crusades being filmed on a movie set, drunken man accidentally tumbles over a balcony wall at his fancy house but lands in his outdoor pool below, threats of violence, and thugs from gangster shoot at two men in car as it speeds away

Multiple images of depicted fornication, Asian woman sings a dirty lesbian song and later wonders if an actress “swings both ways,” lewd references to oral sex, woman performs sensuous movements while being filmed in a makeshift saloon on a movie set

Images of total frontal female nudity, one or two images of full frontal male nudity, multiple images of upper female nudity, some images of rear and upper male nudity and rear female nudity, woman in skimpy outfit crashes a wild party and dances ferociously

Alcohol Use:
Alcohol use and drunkenness, woman becomes an alcoholic

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Smoking, cocaine snorting in one scene and woman becomes a drug addict; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Woman becomes addicted to gambling, corruption, creepy gangster has a creepy dungeon full of human oddities.

More Detail:

BABYLON is a sexually explicit, somewhat satirical drama about Hollywood, set during the transition from the silent movies to the talkies in 1927 and during the transition from the widespread acceptance of sound in 1929 to the guidance of the Hollywood Motion Production Code in 1934, and how these transitions affected one actor and one actress. Clocking in at more than three hours, the ending of BABYLON tries to leave viewers with uplifting images of some of the impressive movies made during the Golden Age of Hollywood, but the rest of the movie contains constant obscene language, an extremely hedonistic party scene that seems to last forever, an annoyingly bombastic and atonal jazz score, politically correct attacks on morality, and two vomit-inducing scatological scenes.

In a gross version of a Laurel and Hardy scene, the movie opens in 1926 with a Hollywood gofer, Manny Torres, trying to oversee the wrangling of an elephant in a small truck up a giant hill. The truck driver didn’t know he was transporting an elephant, so the truck he got is too small. Near the top of the hill, the truck starts going backwards. The elephant wrangler tries to stop the truck from rolling backwards wildly, but the elephant gets scared and unleashes bucketsful of elephant diarrhea onto the wrangler.

Cut to a wild party at a Hollywood mansion, where the elephant was going to be put on display. Manny, played by Diego Calva, goes from wrangling the elephant to wrangling a wild young wannabe actress, Nellie LaRoy, who crashes the wild party. Manny is immediately smitten by Nellie, who’s a bit tipsy. She asks him to show her the drug room upstairs. He takes her there and lets her snort some powder from a pile of cocaine. Downstairs, Nellie starts dancing wildly as people engage in a drunken, dancing orgy, and a jazz band plays a strident, pounding, raucous tune.

Meanwhile, in another room upstairs, a young woman has died while engaged in some kind of drug-fueled orgy with a popular fat actor. Manny’s boss orders Manny to create a diversion so they can bring the girl’s body out of the mansion and take it to a hospital without people noticing. Manny decides to bring in the elephant, whose bowels are now hopefully empty.

After the party, Manny goes from wrangling Nellie to wrangling movie star Jack Conrad, played by Brad Bitt. At the party, Jack is bemused by the lewd excess occuring around him. However, he becomes totally sloshed. So, early the next morning, Manny drives him home. Suddenly, Jack wakes up from his drunken stupor and gets a second wind. Manny is shocked when Jack accidentally falls over a brick wall and lands in the swimming pool blow. At first, Jack looks dead, but then he climbs out of the pool, saying, “Time for bed!”

The next day, Manny, Jack and Nellie end up at the studio lot. A female director grabs Nellie to play a loose pioneer woman who enters a western saloon. They spend the whole afternoon filming Nellie’s scene at the saloon, where she’s supposed to cry on cue and confront her sister who enters the saloon. At the same time, Jack plays a Crusader while the foul-mouthed director orchestrates a complex battle scene. When an important camera for the battle scene breaks, the director sends Manny back into town to rent another camera. However, Manny has to wait a while for another camera to be returned to the rental place, and they barely get the final shot before the sun sets.

Nellie’s sensuous performance in the western makes her a star. Then, however, the studio boss sends Manny to check out the premieres of Al Jolson’s new sound movie, THE JAZZ SINGER, in New York. Manny runs into Nellie on the street and is almost totally distracted from going to see the movie. However, when he does see the movie, he urgently reports back to the studio boss that the movie is a bonafide sensation.

The rest of the movie shows how the transition to sound brings a sudden halt to Jack’s career. His voice seems fine, but the dialogue he’s given is terrible and his delivery of the dialogue isn’t the best.

Nellie seems to do better than Jack. Her sex appeal turns her into a movie sensation. In 1929, however, a public outcry against the immorality depicted in motion pictures begins. Nellie’s career also begins to suffer, and it leads to her increasing addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling. By this time, Manny has become a film director himself. He tries to save Nellie’s career, but his efforts start to bring him down as well.

Meanwhile, Jack keeps trying to make a comeback and wonders if he will ever turn things around for himself.

The second half of BABYLON is something of a downer. Writer/Director tries to liven things up by having Manny take a supposedly reformed and refined Nellie to meet a group of rich, high class snobs, to clean up her image. The snobs start snickering at Nellie’s incompetent attempts to sound erudite. The scene ends with Nellie comically confronting the snobs, destroying all the fancy food tables by sticking her hands and mouth into the food, then getting sick and vomiting all over the floor and all over the suit of one of the men.

Later, Manny and a friend at the studio go see a creepy gangster, played by Tobey McGuire, to pay off a huge gambling debt Nellie owes. The gangster ends up forcing them to take a tour of a dungeon of horrors the gangster has assembled under his estate.

BABYLON is an exercise in excess. Even at the end, when the movie creates a moving homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, including movies like SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, the sequence goes on too long. First-time viewers will be impatient waiting for the movie to finally finish.

BABYLON has abundant foul language. The most common of the movie’s obscenities are various forms of the “f” word, a word that didn’t come into popular use until the 1970s. Also, the lengthy party scene in the beginning has several depicted sex scenes and lots of nudity, including full male and female nudity. One would think that the couples surrounding the dance floor would want to retire privately to one of the huge mansion’s upstairs bedrooms. Of course, the movie’s elephant scene and vomiting scene are equally excessive and gross.

BABYLON has a pretty, lyrical theme song. However, the atonal jazz music it features is strident, pounding and blaring. The movie’s jazz music is meant to be an homage to early talking movie shorts featuring black artists like Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith. In no way, though, does the movie’s raucous jazz music capture the catchy rhythmic beauty of those shorts.

Brad Pitt’s character is loosely based on the career of silent music star John Gilbert, while Margot Robbie’s character is loosely based on the career of silent music star Clara Bow, who successfully made the transition from silent movie star to talking motion pictures. Clara voluntarily decided to leave her movie career behind in 1933, to raise a family with her new husband in the rural town of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is true, however, that she was partly driven out of Hollywood by scandal sheets that sensationalized her earlier affairs with such stars as Gary Cooper and Gilbert Roland. Reportedly, Clara’s perky, freewheeling, down-to-earth personality didn’t fit with the snobbish Hollywood elite that ran the entertainment industry back in those days. Margot Robbie and BABYLON’s writer/director try to capitalize on those facts about Clara Bow, but, like the scandal sheets that began to plague Clara, they sensationalize and exaggerate those facts.

Ultimately, BABYLON presents an overlong, disgusting mix of abhorrent, obscene content. Its sad, but uplifting finish honoring the movies of Hollywood’s Golden Age doesn’t make up for having to sit through all this putrid content.

Quality: - Content: +4
Quality: - Content: +1