Monkey Musings: ‘A Time To Kill’

Caught most of the 1996 film adaptation of John Grisham’s ‘A Time To Kill’ last night, a movie I haven’t seen in at least 10 years.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little older, a little wiser, or just flat out more cynical, but I had to stop the movie about two thirds of the way through.

A reminder for those whose memory was as foggy as mine – within the first 90 minutes of ‘A Time To Kill’, we see:

  • A 12 year old black girl raped by a pair of rednecks
  • Samuel L. Jackson shooting and killing both rednecks (with great vengeance and furrrrrrious anger, natch)
  • The Klu Klux Klan… ohhhh do we see the Ku Klux Klan
  • An elderly man pummeled by a pack of these bedsheet-wearing fruit loops
  • Multiple burning crosses
  • A street fight between the Klan and a crowd of black people
  • A KKK Grand Dragon burnt to death by a deliberately hurled molotov cocktail
  • Matthew McConaughey’s minor stab wound (NOTHING can hurt the McConaughey!)
  • Sandy Bullock being kidnapped by the KKK, tied to a pole, and being left for dead
  • Kiefer Sutherland trying to shoot the McConaughey, only to miss and hit a National Guardsman instead, paralyzing him for life
  • And McConaughey’s house being burnt to the ground


But what made me switch off the TV was none of those things. As brutal as a lot of that sounds, Joel Schumacher’s direction is probably a lot more restrained than it could have been for what is basically a film that legitimizes vigilantism in the right circumstances.

No, what made me turn the TV off for the night was McConaughey being shown the morning after his house has been razed. He sits amongst the ashes, calling for his dog Max, the dog he knows was inside that house the previous morning. Oliver Platt tries to talk to him, to make him come to his senses, but McConaughey refuses to drop the case. He keeps calling for Max, Max, MAX! which makes Platt snap, and tell him that Max is dead, and the McConaughey will be too unless he lets this go.

Low and behold, seconds later we hear a bark… then another, a little closer… whereupon Max himself bursts forth from some scrub, and runs to McConaughey, who razzles the dog in what’s left of his yard. He ain’t letting go, son – their preparation for the trial must continue.

Pretty standard kinda scene, huh?

Until you step back half a step and realize that this is a movie that was prepared to show you child-rape, murder, kidnapping and violent racism… but not a dog dying.

Because Schumacher, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and Warner Brothers KNOW that the audience will forgive them for alllllllll of the horrible shit they’ve seen thus far. But killing a dog?

THAT’S going too far.

And THAT folks, is what Hollywood thinks of YOU, the movie-going public, in a nutshell.

Ponder that.



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3 Responses to “Monkey Musings: ‘A Time To Kill’”

  1. manonmona Says:

    manonmona reblogged this on Espacio de MANON.

  2. Benjamin the Donkey Says:

    Shame on you, BPM, for making me feel guilty for rejoicing at Max’s survival.

  3. buttonpushingmonkey Says:

    “Yes that dog deserved to die, and I hope he burns in hell!”

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