Cinematic clash of the civilizations, Round 84, in which Fatal Attraction misogynistic and manipulative plot twists are supposed to somehow form Important Statements about the rift between the West and the Muslim world. In this corner, representing America’s delusional aggression and decadent materialism, is Phoebe (Robin Wright Penn), a hotshot Q-Dog TV (i.e., MTV) producer of wretched shows like Sorry, Haters (i.e., Cribs) who harbors resentment over her empty life and the estrangement of her husband and daughter. In the other corner, Ashade a gentle and religiously observant Syrian cabdriver trying to help his brother, unjustly detained by the U.S. for alleged terrorist activities. While taking his cab one night Phoebe hears Ashade’s story and quickly sympathizes, but her attempts to provide him with high-level legal hook-ups edge into la-la land when she suggests exacting destructive retribution against the U.S. Ashade refuses to go along and suffers the consequences when his brother’s French-Canadian wife gets paid a visit from the INS on a false tip from Phoebe.
Thus is set in motion a ludicrous allegory of revenge that says absolutely nothing about America’s relations with the Muslim world and everything about the deficiencies of Stanzler’s Screenwriting 101 approach to drama, which relies on hackneyed psychology, “gotcha!” reversals, and the cynical linking of this nonsense to current events. The film’s most costly miscalculation is Phoebe, whose self-hatred and warped ideas about justice fail to represent the worst of America because her femme fatale behavior is so singularly cracked and yet so stereotypically portrayed. Desperately clawing for relevance, Sorry, Haters makes itself look silly up to the final scene, where our protagonist demonstrates her cruelty by chucking a dog in front of a moving truck.