2 items from 1998
"Jack Frost" is nipping at our heartstrings in an affectionate family film from Warner Bros. starring Michael Keaton. Warm and glowing, "Frost" should win hearts at the boxoffice and land video acclaim come this time next year.
Most appealing about this perky film is its look: Keaton plays rock star and family man Jack Frost, whose domicile is Colorado. Jack has been paying his dues in the music business, and, in this comfy situation, he's just about to make it big-time. What Jack doesn't realize, of course, is that he has already made it: He has a terrific, supportive wife, Gabby (Kelly Preston), and an adoring, energetic son, Charlie (Joseph Cross). In short, he lives in a picture postcard-perfect world but doesn't totally appreciate his blessings. In a horrible turn of fate, Jack is killed in a car crash.
The story line is prismed through the Charlie's eyes. We see the loss the young boy has felt and empathize with his difficulty in not having a father. In the comedy's smartly looped scenario, Jack reincarnates as, well, a snowman. And, for the first time, Jack becomes a real father, nurturing his young son and, for a change, supporting his wife.
With its upbeat theme and sumptuous look, "Jack Frost" undeniably hits all the right emotional notes. Kudos to director Troy Miller for bringing this tale to vital life, and the technical crew deserves especially high praise. Cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs has lensed a winning, full-framed depiction of ideal family life, and production designer Mayne Berke has filled the eye with appealing detail. Trevor Rabin's luscious music brims with cozy appeal.
Keaton is endearing as the father torn between career and family life. He shows his character's frailties while detailing his loving energy. As his caring wife, Preston is truly radiant, conveying intelligence and sincerity. Cross is truly winning as Charlie; he's both rambunctious and respectful in portraying a child groping with a great loss.
An Azoff Entertainment/Canton Co. production
Producers: Mark Canton, Irving Azoff
Director: Troy Miller
Screenwriters: Mark Steven Johnson, Steve Bloom, Jonathan Roberts, Jeff Cesario
Director of photography: Laszlo Kovacs
Production designer: Mayne Berke
Editor: Lawrence Jordan
Music: Trevor Rabin
Jack Frost: Michael Keaton
Gabby Frost: Kelly Preston
Charlie Frost: Joseph Cross
Mac MacArthur: Mark Addy
Running time -- 108 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
In the invasive world presented by "Enemy of the State", Big Brother isn't just watching, he's monitoring every single twitch and blink of an eye.
A nimbly paced techno-thriller about a noble attorney who has unwittingly become the target of a corrupt intelligence agent, the picture is something of a conspiracy theory movie sampler platter -- serving up reheated morsels of "Three Days of the Condor", "The Net", "Conspiracy Theory" and, most notably, "The Conversation" -- without being particularly nourishing in its own right.
Still, while the involvement factor isn't all it could have been, the Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production (Bruckheimer began developing the project with his late partner in 1991) comes across as a heck of a lot smarter than the summer's noisy "Armageddon" and "Con Air" before it. The resulting, comparatively old-fashioned approach to moviemaking will likely skew to older audiences, while the presence of Will Smith should ensure a strong showing from the younger contingent.
It won't reach the dizzying boxoffice heights of Smith's past two Fourth of July releases, but "Enemy of the State" will likely be a solid fourth-quarter performer for Buena Vista.
After keeping the world safe from nasty aliens in his past couple of heroic outings, Smith tries a more somber, everyman role as Robert Clayton Dean, an on-the-way-up lawyer whose promising career and happy home life are sabotaged when he unknowingly comes into possession of a piece of filmed evidence that would implicate National Security Agency official Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight) in the murder of a U.S. congressman.
Not knowing what he has -- or even where it is -- Dean nevertheless finds himself ruthlessly pursued in a high-tech game of cat and mouse, in which the cat has access to some pretty impressive satellite tracking devices.
Just when it appears Dean is running out of places to run, he hooks up with the mysterious Brill (Gene Hackman), a gruff, cloistered former intelligence operative who helps Dean reclaim his life.
While director Tony Scott choreographs all the pursuing with sleek, state-of-the-art efficiency, the picture's plotting is pure Pac-Man. The script, credited to original screenwriter David Marconi, takes a blandly linear approach to the genre, saving any real twists and turns until the crowd-rousing, table-turning ending.
And because the bad guys' methods of surveillance are revealed from the outset, the viewer is robbed of sharing in Smith's growing paranoia, which puts a serious dent in the identification factor.
Speaking of Smith, he makes an effective John Q. Public, but in going for something more serious, he sacrifices the kick-ass spirit that has made him such a hit with audiences. It isn't until the late arrival of Hackman, looking like he's doing a tribute to Karl Malden circa "The Streets of San Francisco", that Smith finally finds a lively sparring partner.
Elsewhere among the cast, Voight is in cool, heavy mode as the rogue NSA official; Regina King is good as Smith's strong, opinionated wife; and young actors Jake Busey (Gary's kid) and Scott Caan (James' kid) are among the thugs that make up Voight's elite killing team.
As expected, production values are top-notch and appreciably quieter than recent Bruckheimer efforts. Dan Mindel's camera work is crisp, clean and unfussy; editor Chris Lebenzon's cutting is sufficiently rapid without the feeling that a machete was involved in its execution.
Likewise the score by former Yes member Trevor Rabin, which underscores the pulse-pounding movement minus the eardrum-pounding overkill.
ENEMY OF THE STATE
Touchstone Pictures presents
a Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production
in association with Scott Free Prods.
A film by Tony Scott
Director: Tony Scott
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Screenwriter: David Marconi
Executive producers: Chad Oman, James W. Skotchdopole, Andrew Z. Davis
Director of photography: Dan Mindel
Production designer: Benjamin Fernandez
Editor: Chris Lebenzon
Costume designer: Marlene Stewart
Music: Trevor Rabin, Harry Gregson-Williams
Casting: Victoria Thomas
Robert Clayton Dean: Will Smith
Brill: Gene Hackman
Thomas Brian Reynolds: Jon Voight
Carla Dean: Regina King
Agent Hicks: Loren Dean
Drug: Jake Busey
Agent David Pratt: Barry Pepper
Daniel Zavitz: Jason Lee
"Brill": Gabriel Byrne
Rachel Banks: Lisa Bonet
Running time --127 minutes
MPAA rating: R
2 items from 1998
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