“Film” Review Maneater (2007)

Posted: September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Directed by Gary Yates

Starring Gary Busey, Ian D. Clark and Ty Wood

History and popular culture have brought us many great tigers. Hobbes. Tony. Battlecat. Great Tiger. Tiger Tanaka. But not enough of them. Seeing a killer tiger film with the title of Hall and Oates song streaming on Netflix filled me with childlike wonder. And childlike trepidation. I could only hope the experience wouldn’t end in childlike nausea. (Children throw up a lot.) The presence of Gary Busey promised one thing: that Gary Busey would be present. Gary Busey has had a lot to deal with in his life:Mel Gibson. Danny Glover.  Head trauma. The onset of the 90s. Meatloaf.  And now, a tiger.

Gary Busey plays a small town sheriff. A man who understands things his greenhorn deputy doesn’t. Like how sometimes you have to integrate two yardsales. Or that even if a person is missing for a short period of time , a hysterical spouse means you gotta get down to action Gary Busey style. Meaning wideeyed and awkward. Turns out that this missing spouse was eaten by the titular tiger. And the only one who knows that the tiger’s out there is a little boy whose very religious mother thinks he’s just makebelieving. Like when he pretends to clone himself with a cardboard box or disrupts class by playing spaceman.

Over lunch with a very stunted coroner, Busey discovers that it would have taken an army of raccoons to do this damage. Or a bear unlike any they have ever seen. Busey keeps his feelings to himself like a pro unlike certain seventies pop icons who shall remain nameless. Experiencing deep, inscrutable feelings of concern for his town. Feelings that are more inscrutable than deep most likely. Fake body parts and intrigue abound. Intrigue that dissipates twenty minutes in when Busey discovers that the killer is a tiger. Those of you watching the film as a mystery/police procedural might want to shut it off at that point. Those of you watching it hoping to see people mauled by tiger…are the only ones watching this movie to begin with.

At least Busey still has to figure out where it came from. And how to kill it. According to his animal expert, tigers pretty much can’t be killed. Even though they’re endangered and common targets of poachers. Poachers that must have used rifles blessed by whoever the patron saint of killing tigers is. As difficult as it might be to kill a tiger, it is still far too easy. And it sucks that this movie is villifying tigers. As fun as tiger maulings might be for gorehounds.

Like Jaws, Jaws of Satan and pretty much any other movie about animals going rogue, there is a politician that wants Busey to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites them in the ass. (Tigers are fairly proficient swimmers, so I think the quote is still valid.) But Busey just wants to get that tiger so nobody else has to die. And the little boy I mentioned a few paragraphs ago thinks the tiger is cool and has a rapport with it. Everybody wants something different from the tiger, especially the hundreds of people looking to collect a bounty on its majestic stripey head. And the paparazzi descending on the town.

The boy, played by Ty Wood does some slightly convincing acting, outclassing the actress playing his religious mother and showing a concern for the tiger that outdoes Busey’s concern for the town. It feels marginally poignant when he flees out into the woods to warn the tiger that soldiers are coming for it. His empathy for the tiger might have felt more intense if he’d gotten more screentime than Busey. Of course, then the movie would turn into a painful sugary morass of whimsy. He makes a reasonable conscience for this otherwise illconceived film.

Maneater is pretty awful, but at least the film uses a real tiger, which makes the tiger a little more sympathetic and loveable and brings in a comical British big gamehunter (Ian D. Clark)  as the film’s Captain Quint. You will not get to see any tiger maulings, though you will get to see plenty of body parts, plenty of Busey and a ridiculously out of place Great White Hunter type . Not worth spending any amount of money on,  but if you want to spend 88 minutes mocking Gary Busey alongside inebriated friends, Maneater might be worth it. But probably not.

2.5/10 (heartily not recommended)

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