2 items from 1997
Independence Day will be coming early for 20th Century Fox this year.
Getting the jump on the traditional start of the summer movie season, "Volcano" is a sure-fire winner. A classic disaster picture that refuses to take itself too seriously, the Fox release originally was scheduled to face off opposite the similarly themed "Dante's Peak", but the gamble to hold off should pay off handsomely. Unlike its somber, rather stilted predecessor, this volcano flick's a real blast, serving up solid special effects, crisp writing and full-throttle direction by Mick Jackson ("The Bodyguard").
Lineups should flow like lava around theaters, particularly those on the West Coast.
Just when it seems L.A.'s been through just about every imaginable calamity, along comes volcanic activity beneath the La Brea Tar Pits to humble the city anew. No stranger to disasters natural and otherwise, Office of Emergency Management director Mike Roark Tommy Lee Jones) snaps into action with some expert assistance from seismologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche).
But they have to think fast before the molten mass that is quickly carpeting Wilshire Boulevard turns the whole city into cinders.
That's about it as far as plot is concerned, but screenwriters Billy Ray ("Earth 2") and Jerome Armstrong have a lot of fun with the milieu.
By setting their volcano story in the middle of a highly recognizable, sprawling metropolis, the writers have created a surreal sense of immediacy. Jackson, who previously poked fun at the terrain as director of Steve Martin's "L.A. Story", gleefully sends every pop culture icon up in a blaze of glory -- from the Beverly Center to Angelyne.
While there are some bumpy passages along the way and the ending sequence is rather abrupt, the filmmaking team has come up with some colorful characterizations and situations to keep audience attention in check.
Jones plays his part with vein-bulging conviction, while Heche makes an engaging ally. The rest of the cast, including Don Cheadle as Roark's second-in-command, young Gaby Hoffmann as Roark's daughter and Keith David as a helpful police officer all do fine work while knowing that the pyrotechnics are the real star of this show.
With the exception of some hokey-looking computer-generated lava, the special effects don't disappoint.
Re-creating a quarter-mile chunk of recognizable Los Angeles real estate at a McDonnell Douglas Aircraft plant parking lot, production designer Jackson DeGovia ("Speed", "Die Hard") convincingly knows his way around architecture.
Making his contribution to what already has to be one of the loudest movies in recent memory, composer Alan Silvestri has furnished a brassy, take-no-prisoners score that is entirely fitting for what is essentially a good old-fashioned monster movie in high-tech clothing. Lava lamps will never be looked at the same way again.
Twentieth Century Fox
A Shuler Donner/Donner
and Moritz original production
A Mick Jackson film
Director Mick Jackson
Screenwriters Jerome Armstrong
and Billy Ray
Story Jerome Armstrong
Producers Neal H. Moritz, Andrew Z. Davis
Executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner
Director of photography Theo van de Sande
Production designer Jackson DeGovia
Editors Michael Tronick, Don Brochu
Costume designer Kirsten Everberg
Music Alan Silvestri
Mike Roark Tommy Lee Jones
Dr. Amy Barnes Anne Heche
Kelly Roark Gaby Hoffmann
Emmitt Reese Don Cheadle
Dr. Jaye Calder Jacqueline Kim
Lt. Ed Fox Keith David
Running time -- 105 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
The pairing of "Friends" regular Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek ("Desperado") in a Southwestern-style romantic comedy has plenty of date-night appeal, but "Fools Rush In" is a disappointingly unendearing cinematic valentine from director Andy Tennant ("It Takes Two").
The Columbia Pictures wide release faces strong competition and won't be experiencing too heavy a rush at the boxoffice, although it may generate respectable crossover business with Latino audiences and perform well on video.
Written by Katherine Reback and based on the real-life courtship of producer Doug Draizin and co-producer Anna Maria Davis, "Fools" sets up a hustling New Yorker (Perry) with an aspiring Latina photographer (Hayek) for a broad but often blandly executed round of multicultural gags and tame drama.
Although both leads give engaging performances, as manic romantics they never really achieve orbital velocity.
After a one-night stand, she leaves him flat. A new guy in her hometown of Vegas, he oversees construction of a new nightclub and confides with an equally well-groomed city slicker (Jon Tenney).
Months later, Hayek's pregnant believer-in-fate shows up and Perry's honorable unbeliever falls in love with her.
The lovers get hitched with the help of an Elvis impersonator, but she doesn't know that he plans to return to New York. He also insults her in front of his nosy country-club parents John Bennett Perry, Jill Clayburgh) and almost runs into serious trouble with her former fiance (Carlos Gomez) and father.
Despite the glitzy Vegas locations and several scenes filmed at Hoover Dam, the film lacks visual pizazz. The soundtrack includes some 20 pop songs -- from vintage Presley to the Iguanas.
FOOLS RUSH IN
Sony Pictures Releasing
A Doug Draizin production
An Andy Tennant film
Director Andy Tennant
Writer Katherine Reback
Producer Doug Draizin
Executive producer Michael McDonnell
Director of photography Robbie Greenberg
Production designer Edward Pisoni
Editor Roger Bondelli
Costume designer Kimberly A. Tillman
Co-producer Anna Maria Davis
Music Alan Silvestri
Casting Juel Bestrop
Alex Matthew Perry
Isabel Salma Hayek
Jeff Jon Tenney
Nan Jill Clayburgh
Running time -- 109 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
2 items from 1997
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