The best joke, by far, of “Machete Kills” is the all-star cast of Spanish-American stars, mainstream rejects, A-movie cast-offs and infotainment obsessions: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Amber Heard, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Demian Bichir, Lady Gaga, Sofia Vergara, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Charlie Sheen, who is announced to us in the credits thusly “and introducing Carlos Estevez.”
Our own William Sadler, of Hamburg, adds to his voluminous villain’s roster as a funny cracker sheriff given to wacko racist soliloquies.
He calls the movie’s legendary Mexican hero “Taco” and slimily sneers “I bet you consider yourself a real motor scooter, don’t you?”
It gets even better when you know that Gibson plays the uber-villain Voz, a fellow who complains that his life was never the same after something that he mysteriously calls “the incident.” (A pretty good joke on the Oscar-winning megastar who had a really bad DUI night on a California highway and watched his career float out to sea.) It’s Gibson’s first time as a villain.
Oh yeah, I should mention that Sheen plays a president of the United States named Rothcock.
I can’t, with any honesty, tell you that I never laughed at the blood-gushing anarchic jokes in “Machete Kills.” It wasn’t good laughter, though, believe me. It’s the sour, reflex kind – as automatic as emitting a choice obscenity when you stub your toe in the dark.
There’s a good reason why all the dirty jokes you heard as a child didn’t come with sequels.
No one ever tapped you on the shoulder at lunch so they could tell you “there are sharks in these waters” part two.
What we have here is the sequel to “Machete,” which was a hilariously loony and juvenile literalization of a movie invented by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez for the mock movie trailers in their movie “Grindhouse,” which was a tribute to the inventive idiocies found in movies at the lowest garbage level.
The plot here is that the indomitable government agent is sent by the president to Mexico to deal with a nutso bad guy (Demian Bichir) who is threatening to blow up Washington. Our man Machete winds up having to bring him back to Washington with him.
There’s no question that the spirit of sophisticated people getting together to deliberately create cinematic rubbish is infectious. The trouble is that maintaining a cheerful and strenuously juvenile attitude while making a film intended to be as garbageous as possible seems more than a little exhausting.
Quite a few people in this movie are chopped up not by machetes but by rotary blades – on helicopters or boat engines. And despite their beauty and their fleshy costumes, women don’t seem to fare at all well in “Machete Kills,” not even the gloriously invincible Rodriguez.
The laughs and the juvenile junk cinema pleasures are, though, decidedly intermittent. I must say you have to have some minimal respect for movie that can somehow pretend that Lady Gaga and Cuba Gooding Jr. are the same person.
At one point, Machete delivers the ultimate wisdom about this film by paraphrasing a well-known bumper sticker and piece of graffiti.
He tells the bad guy “Machete happens.”
It does indeed.