An actress (Gina Gershon) accused of the murder of her brother-in-law with whom she may have been having an affair is defended by a young, naive attorney (Edward Kerr) whose strings are being pulled by a slick celebrity lawyer (James Garner). Kathleen Turner also appears as the tv tabloid "Scandal Central" talk show host who exposes the legal sham and the actress' pretense. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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In the made for television film Legalese you will find for the only time in his career James Garner playing a villain. His Norman Keane is who they had in mind when they make all the lawyer jokes.
Not that he isn't good. He's worth every penny of what a client, especially a guilty one can pay him. Garner's good although in this film he does his best lawyering without setting foot in the courtroom.
Gina Gershon plays this sexpot actress who shoots and kills her brother- in-law with whom she's been having a torrid affair. When she's arrested Gershon claims that she did it to protect her sister from a violent and brutal husband. But can she make this stick?
In the meantime Gershon goes to Garner the lawyer to the stars. But as Garner sees the problem, he's just come off a controversial OJ Simpson like case where he got off a client most people thought was guilty as sin. Point being that the public that makes up the jury pool might just take it out on his next client.
What to do? What Garner decides to do is put in a ringer, an idealistic fresh faced young attorney, someone like Matt Damon in The Rainmaker with Garner coaching from the sidelines. He even gives his stooge, Edward Kerr, an earpiece transmitter so he can put the words right in his mouth.
Just how manipulative Garner is the audience has no idea, but the full scope of it will be revealed by the end of the film.
If Legalese has a weakness it's in Kerr. Not that the man didn't do a good job, he did as good a job as he could with a character I can't believe was all that naive. Both he and Mary Louise Parker from Garner's office really get hung out to dry when show business reporter Kathleen Turner breaks into Garner's office and films them doing the horizontal mambo. Turner has a juicy role she makes the most of.
But the film belongs to Garner. He was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor in a TV movie and too bad he didn't win it. Kudos should also go to Gina Gershon, this is not a lady to cross.
Legalese is why they make lawyer jokes, but when you need one Garner's the guy to get.
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