The Darwin Awards stars Joseph Fiennes as a hematophobic forensics investigator who ends up helping insurance investigator Winona Ryder in a series of suspicious insurance fraud claims. The concept was very interesting to me: I enjoy forensics shows/movies and I've always enjoyed the Darwin Awards - should be a perfect match, right? Well, not quite...
As a forensics investigation movie, it pretty much flops. Some (perhaps all?) of the cases were actual Darwin Awards, which was cute, but meant that it was bloody obvious what was going to happen to anyone who's heard about some of the most famous ones. The ones that were less obvious were just too ridiculous for the viewer to have any hope of guessing, yet somehow Fiennes manages to intuit this absurd sequence of events. It all comes across as unbelievable, while at the same time spending far too much of the plot on showing us how these events came to be. The Metallica concert scene was just painful - a very unpleasant 10 minutes that felt more like 30, and I'm a big Metallica fan.
Instead, the movie shines more as a comedy, with Fiennes showing off some mad slapstick skills. It wasn't a roll-on-the-floor comedy, but it managed to elicit a few of chuckles, a couple of good laughs, and one hearty guffaw at the "shower scene" (which is much funnier and less sketchy than it sounds). Still, as a romantic comedy I feel that it fell flat thanks to Ryder's character being fairly unlikable, having me feeling like Fiennes could do better the whole time. It's hard to enjoy a "romantic" comedy when I don't want to root on the unlikely couple.
All in all, the movie isn't great, but it doesn't suck. It has some slow parts, and seems almost insultingly obvious at times. The ending is silly and stupid, even though they managed to reference a popular fabricated Darwin Award, which I enjoyed. The film student who follows Fiennes around (whom I'm sad to say I didn't recognize until I saw the credits) filming his every move is a pretty funny foil for Fiennes' straight-man character, but ultimately feels like it's the same joke over and over. There are a number of impressive list of cameos though (David Arquette, Chris Penn, Metalica...), including a real surprise (that I won't ruin here) as the pair who own the army surplus shop. Honestly, seeing that cameo alone made the movie worth it to me, but if you're less geeky you might not appreciate it. I enjoyed the movie, but I wouldn't watch it more than once. For a movie touting Darwin, it fails to really stand out as a dominant fish in the sea of comedies. 6/10
*Chomp* - The 40 Year Old Virgin