The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption (2004)

No redemption for Shaw-stank

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption

I recently visited the popular website The Internet Movie Database (, and checked out their list of the top 250 movies of all time. This is a list that is compiled based on voting from regular folks like you. That’s right, you! Well you sure did let me down.

You see, the number two film on this list is The Shawshank Redemption. Not Road House, not Air Bud 2: Golden Retriever, not any of the other films I have reviewed over the past year. No, it was the Morgan Freeman/Tim Robbins prison drama based on a novella by Stephen King.

Now that I think about it, maybe it’s appropriate that Shawshank held that ranking. I have often heard people, as they are headed for the bathroom, making reference to having to go “number two.” What they mean, of course, is that they are about to expel excrement out of their rectal cavity. So it makes sense that Shawshank would be number two, since that’s exactly what it is – a big ol’ steaming pile of poop.

Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a man who is accused of murdering his wife and the man she was cheating on him with. Andy is sent to Shawshank Prison, where he spends the better part of the next two decades. Over his time in the slammer, he forms a close friendship with Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, portrayed by Morgan Freeman. Through beatings, parole denials and the death of their friends, their bond strengthens.

I’m sure there is supposed to be some life-affirming message about finding hope when all hope seems lost, but it is awfully hard to interpret this message when you find yourself dozing off every five minutes. Granted, the turkey and box of wine I consumed before watching the film probably didn’t help.

Many great films have been adapted from the works of Mr. Stephen King – Cujo, Pet Cemetery and The Running Man come to mind. So how did director Frank Darabont and his crew manage to muck this film up so badly?

Well, they certainly didn’t have any help from their actors, that’s for darn tootin’.

What can I say about Morgan Freeman? The man is certainly a darling of the critics. Well, not this critic! If you ask me, and I’m going to assume that you just did, the man couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag. Want proof? Take a look at the accompanying photograph of Mr. Freeman imprisoned in a brown paper bag, like he’s a copy of “Barely Legal” magazine on a convenience store shelf. If he could act his way out of it, why wouldn’t he?

Morgan Freeman in a paper bagFor years Freeman has been given every role that calls for a kindly, likeable, older African American man. Meanwhile Burt Reynolds sits at home waiting for a call. Oh, I know what you are about to say – Burt Reynolds isn’t black. Well, shut up and stop being such a racist!

As terrible as Freeman is, his co-star Robbins is even worse. Robbins’ performance is mundane and passionless. Stephen King must be rolling in his grave after seeing Robbins desecrate one of his creations. Wait a second, Stephen King isn’t dead! That explains why he is rolling around down there! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE, SOMEBODY, DIG UP STEPHEN KING FROM HIS PREMATURE GRAVE!

Not only was the directing lackluster, and the acting positively dreadful, on top of all that, the on-set catering left something to be desired. Bob Gunton, who plays the part of the Shawshank’s warden, was often heard to say, “You call this a tomato sandwich?”

It’s truly fitting that The Shawshank Redemption takes place in a correctional institute. That’s because by the time I was finished viewing it, I felt like I had been the victim of a 142-minute long prison shower rape. Don’t drop the soap – don’t watch this film!


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