Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

My boy Tyrone insisted that I watch this movie. Now the reasons that Tyrone insisted I watch this movie has little to do with the fact he actually liked the movie but more so with his fascination with the character of Mandingo, as played by Lawrence Hilton Jacobs who has completely discarded the good natured Freddy ‘Boom Boom’ Washington that we grew up with as children and was re-channeling his ‘Joe Jackson’ character as quite possibly the world’s most oppressive orderly. Tyrone rather enjoyed the subtleties in the hidden meanings that came along with Mandingo’s oppressive abuse of his sniveling Caucasian charge, thus playing into the white man’s liberal fears, thus lending itself to a broader sociological ennui. Dig how I broke that down. I on the other hand was simply trying to stay awake and was cursing Tyrone’s name while hoping and praying that this movie would somehow start to make some freaking sense.

George Grieves (Tom Cavanaugh) is falling. Just before he hits the ground he wakes up and is comforted by his wife Jennifer (Kathleen York) because had he hit the ground, as myth has it, death in the dream will result in death in real life. It’s a big day for George though as it's his 40th birthday and it will be celebrated with his wife, his two children, his wayward baby brother and all of his friends, and the following morning he’s going into the hospital for a routine colonoscopy.

When George wakes up the morning following the colonoscopy it would appear there was nothing routine about it at all as he is in all kinds of pain, sweating like pig and he can’t get any answers on why this is happening. While George is suffering at this hospital, the movie intercuts back and forth from his 40th birthday party and the conversations that he has with his friends and family members, and then back to this serious pickle at the hospital. Back at the hospital George’s pretty nurse Andrea (Paget Brewster) tries to make him as comfortable as possible but eventually George figures out that his Iranian quack doctor (Cas Anvar) has preformed the wrong surgery on his ass. Actually I guess if the doctor had preformed surgery on his ass George wouldn’t be in this predicament.

Things get even stranger for George as he, with the help of his pretty nurse, starts poking around this weird hospital and discovers some disturbing things. Such as the fact that his wife is screwing the Iranian doctor and that there is a secret wing of the hospital where they perform illegal donor stealing operations and that there is an angry Black orderly dressed like an Ice Cream man calling himself Mandingo who is going around murdering patents. The bad part is that Mandingo has set his sights on George and there doesn’t seem to be much he can do about it.

So I’m watching this movie, completely bewildered by what’s going on and about 81 minutes into the movie, just at the time Mandingo jumps on George’s chest and is about to break it all down for us my DVD freezes. I yank the DVD out of the player and get ready to clean off only to notice that there are grooves in that thing deeper than the lines in Cloris Leachman’s face. Back to Netflix it went while I wait another week so I can finish the final twenty minutes of this damn movie. That has nothing to do with anything other than the fact it just pissed me off. But once I put the DVD back in and picked up where it left off I will admit that my appreciation for ‘Sublime’ did grow a little bit. Not a lot but a little.

Director Tony Krantz was very, very ambitious with this project as it was obvious from practically the opening scene that this was going to be filled with symbolism and metaphors, and by golly it is filled to the brim with symbolism and metaphors. You really do have to pay close attention while watching this movie because Krantz lines up everything just so, and if you blink you may miss something important in a particular symbolic metaphor, and sadly I was doing a lot of blinking.

I think I got the basics though since George represents middle thinking fearful America and he is afraid of a few things such as hospitals, dying, his wife’s infidelity and Black people. It was pretty funny when the hospital administrators ask George for the name of the murderous Black orderly who was killing up patients and he responded with ‘Mandingo’. I don’t know if Krantz did enough in his script to manifest these fears into the conscious George so that we knew this is what he was dealing with before Mandingo went off on him, and I certainly am unsure about the route George took to finally ‘resolve’ these fears of his but I’m sure there was symbolic metaphorisms that explained this as well. Metaphorisms is not a real word by the way.

‘Sublime’ is a very strange mind trip of a movie which was tightly directed and edited, and reasonably well acted. For the most part I don’t know if I ‘got it’ enough to actually enjoy it, but it was interesting to watch nonetheless.

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