The Professor and the Madman (2019)

director: P. B. Shemran
release-year: 2019
genres: drama
countries: USA
languages: English

Imagine Braveheart. Imagine an intricately costumed Mel Gibson roaring out passionate, heartfelt screeds in a thick Scottish accent. Imagine fleets of men following him in astonished awe and wonder. Now imagine that instead of shouting about battling to the death with swords, he's shouting about… writing a dictionary.

Every man dies, not every man truly lives.

Since it's hard to find a good villainous antagonist in a story about writing a dictionary, they pull in the stereotypical head-of-the-rich-kid-frat from any generic university-themed comedy movie to throw down word battles with Mel in the fancy Oxford University ballrooms.

Starring David Spade from PCU.

In parallel, a crazed and wild-eyed Sean Penn is thrown in an absurdly fancy insane asylum because he accidentally shot a dude when he was firing wildly at his schizophrenic nightmares. Sean Penn is fantastic at being crazed and wild-eyed, so his scenes are much-appreciated reprieves from the battlefield dictionary scenes.

Nothing a bit of blood-letting can't cure.

The movie has four other plots to get through, so it really doesn't have time to explain why the asylum's security guard becomes Sean's best friend. But it's very important to the completely unbelievable acts of defiance that are necessary to progress Sean's story fast enough to fit in a two hour movie, so friends they are. The guard allows just about anyone in to visit the violent crazy killer, which turns out to be convenient.

Best known for his performance in The World's End.

The wife of the man Sean murdered, Lola Bunny from Game of Thrones, starts coming to visit him in the penitentiary. They have to hop through this fast, so she puts on her best Pygmalion accent and does a real quick traversal of the hate-to-love spectrum. He teaches her to read, she writes him a stupid love note, and he goes full-schizo and self-mutilates in response.

She learns to read and write in approximately a week.

Meanwhile, our hero Mel is losing his dictionary rap battles and the mean old rich kids are going to take his job away. Luckily for him, Sean-the-nutjob is imprisoned in an asylum with access to thousands of antique books, and he invents Wiktionary. With their powers combined, Mel & Sean start to get the upper hand. Mel goes to visit him in the loony bin, they compare greybeards, they have a rap battle, they laugh, and instantly become the best of friends.

But whose greybeard is the greyest beard?

It all comes crashing down when Mel's wife learns that Sean is crazypants; she screams and screams. Then, in the next scene, she inexplicably forgets about all of that. But the newspapers also catch wind of the dirty secret, as do the mean rich kids, and there's a lot of passionate yelling and a lot of convenient forgetting as nobody can quite seem to put into words why anyone should care about any of this.

It's hard to imagine yelling this much about a dictionary.

The manufactured conflict comes to a head when Mel boldly yells at Winston Churchill from across a crowded room. Churchill sees that as a good reason to release the absolutely psychotic killer from his treatment, and they all live happily ever after until they die of pneumonia a few years later.

Well, released to go be imprisoned again in America, anyway.

It's all based on a true story, but I'm quite certain the true story didn't have this many impassioned monologues. Apparently, the only way to cram this much into a feature-length film was to ham it up at every turn. Double-feature it with Braveheart for full effect.

Now go add a word to Wiktionary.