Sucker Punch, The Greatest Film not About Boxing but with Secret Dancing Ever Made


Way back in 2012 I needed to watch Sucker Punch for a class I was teaching. My department chair was selecting the movies we had to discuss in the freshman survey classes. Sucker Punch was supposed to be a movie about a hustler, Ray ‘Harley’ Davidson, a failed prize fight manager.  I remember loving Diggstown, the last boxing con movie I watched.  You know the one, with James Woods and Louis Gossett Jr.  Diggstown is probably the best con film made since The Sting.

Well I pop the DVD into my player, and the film starts.  The soundtrack opens with a cover of Annie Lennox’s Sweet Dreams.  Then there’s this fight between an old man and a really young woman.  Huh.  Not really boxing, but I’ll settle for some fisticuffs.  Then it got weird.

What was supposed to be a boxing con film, turned into a dancing film…with no dancing.  I’m going to say that again.  A dancing film…with no dancing.  Whenever one of the characters would start to ‘dance’, the camera would zoom into their eye and then the scene dissolved into a sort of diesel punk fight scene.

Instead of a well-executed con or hustle, there was a, I’m guessing, drug induced scavenger hunt going on for a map, a fire, a key, and a secret item.  Why drug induced?  Because for some reason we are now listening to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit sung with the same cool inflection they covered Here Comes the Rain Again.  When Captain Bart Mancuso, played by Scott Glenn, lists these items out, I seriously start thinking that the secret item better be something to do with boxing, because this dragon chasing a B-25 isn’t doing it.  That’s right, now there’s a dragon.

Next thing I know there’s an ash longer than the shifty attorney Nathan Thurm brought to life by Martin Short on Saturday Night Live had on his cigarettes, and we see one of the women’s eyes.  Psst…that’s how we know the dance is over.  We see one of the women’s eyes.  Is it really that much easier to get actors with pretty eyes than to get actors that know how to dance?  Does showing women actually dance make the film not interesting to an important demographic?  Do all dance coaches have to have poorly performed Russian accents?

Unfortunately, I was invested.  I kept watching. The weird cast of scavenger hunters, née undancers, had assembled most of the objects.  I wanted to see the final secret item.  Would it be as exciting as James Woods adjusting his tie and telling Louis Gossett jr. to finish it.  No, I’m not going to feel sorry for spoiling the end of Diggstown.  That movie came out in 1992.  Try to keep up Terry Fox.

Let’s just say that it wasn’t as exciting as that.  It was more like there was some leftover CGI of Cylon robots that the undancers started fighting after Captain Mancuso gave the women a pep talk, while the voice counting down the explosion of the Nostromo was babbling about a weapon on a train.  Yes, a train, because nothing’s as hard to find and blow up as a train with a helicopter.  What the hell?  I better check the syllabus.

Turns out there’s at least two movies called Sucker Punch.  I didn’t choose the right one.  This one was a weird fantasy about a group of orphans and prostitutes fighting battles, with comical weapons, in psychotropicly generated surreal lands.  It was made, for lack of a better word, in 2011.And that my friends is why sometimes it simpler just to say, “A dog ate my homework.”