The Brass Teapot Cutesy Conceit is a Struggle


Even The Twilight Zone would have struggled with the cutesy conceit of The Brass Teapot, a greed-corrupts cautionary tale about a financially strapped married couple whose life is destroyed by a teapot that spews cash any time they hurt themselves or others. For broke John (Michael Angarano) and Alice (Juno Temple), the ancient kettle is the answer to their prayers, though the burns, broken limbs, and S&M whipping fun that accompany it soon give way to graver trouble, as the teapot shows greater interest in not just physical but emotional pain—a fact that John and Alice ignore even after being cautioned by a Chinese sage who knows the object’s 2,000-year-old history. He’s one of many stereotypes trotted out by director Ramaa Mosley’s fable, which also serves up caricatured Hasidic Jews, rednecks, and even snobby Republicans in the form of a high school yuppie (Alexis Bledel) whom Alice endeavors to emulate. Wearing out its welcome long before its moralizing finale, the film—and its portrait of killing yourself to make a living—does manage to mine contemporary fears about the increasing worthlessness of a college degree. Not-so-subtly implying that avarice was the motivation behind the Holocaust, however, is a bad joke that should have been left untold.