I didn’t get around to seeing “Don’t Worry Darling” in theaters. I might’ve been in New York for live Dozen match the week of its release, but I was intrigued by it given the behind-the-scenes drama and the poor reception that it got. For people who don’t remember, this was the movie that may have possibly led to Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis‘s divorce, not to mention the drama that went down with Shia LaBeouf getting “fired” and ultimately being replaced in this movie by Harry Styles. The drama behind the scenes was substantially more riveting than the drama in the film, but I digress.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is not a terrible film. It does feature a unique setup, some good direction, and a good lead performance by Florence Pugh. I wouldn’t call it a chore to sit through. It runs long, but it’s not as overly bloated as many movies that I’ve seen this year. The film won’t even come close to cracking my bottom 10 of the year. It’s not THAT bad. But it sure as hell ain’t good. The word that comes to mind when I think about this movie is “confusing.” But it’s not confusing the way that a Christopher Nolan movie could be confusing. I had a general sense of what was going on the whole time. It’s confusing that it exists. It’s confusing that somebody thought this was a good idea. Olivia Wilde has made one feature film before this, and that was 2019‘s “Booksmart,” which I heard was brilliant. It was also a comedy, so I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to give her carte blanche to write and direct whatever the hell she wanted after that. I feel like there should be some ladder of ascension. It’s like if Adam McKay would’ve directed “The Big Short” right after directing “Anchorman.” I think it might’ve raised some eyebrows. And while from a directorial standpoint, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a nice movie to look at, it is so lame in a lot of areas. The biggest complaint I have with this film is that even though it’s meant to be a thriller, there ain’t many thrills. The film is severely lacking in tension. Even the bad films in this genre have some level of excitement. Even if they’re completely stupid you’re kind of invested in where they’re going to go. That was not the case in this movie. It’s almost an achievement how unexciting it is.
So much talk was made about how bad Harry Styles was in this movie. It became a running joke on the Internet. And look, Harry Styles is not a great dramatic actor, but I think he could be. He falls into that Justin Timberlake category where if you put them in the right projects (like Timberlake in “The Social Network”), I think he could do well, but he’s completely miscast in this movie. If he wasn’t one of the most prominent performers in the world right now, I’d almost feel sorry for them. He was set up to fail. He also sadly suffers from what I call “Jar-Jar Binks syndrome.” People took the character of Jar-Jar Binks and the actor Ahmed Best and made him out to be the only reason why “The Phantom Menace” failed. It seems like the internet has done the same with Harry Styles. If you replaced Harry styles with Daniel Day-Lewis, this still wouldn’t be a good movie. And while I brought up that he’s miscast, he’s not the only one. What on gods green earth is Nick Kroll doing in this movie? What purpose did he serve?
I’m just so fascinated by this movie. If there’s one big compliment I can give it, it’s that I won’t forget it. It’s a representation of Hollywood at its most bizarre. It’s simply remarkable to me that nobody stepped in at one point and said “Maybe this isn’t a great idea.” Everyone has said that this was a passion project for Olivia Wilde, and to that I say, “how?” What was there to be passionate about? This movie is filled to the brim with nonsense. It’s a prime example of what happens when you give a talented person a blank canvas and tell them to create art. It doesn’t always end up well. I don’t like the movie at all, but if you’re feeling the right type of way, I’d almost recommend watching it just for the experience. At no point is it good, but it’s consistently fascinating.