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The Devil and Daniel Webster
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Reviews & Ratings for
Shortcut to Happiness More at IMDbPro »The Devil and Daniel Webster (original title)

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29 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

A Very Good film and definitely worth watching

Author: cute_little_seniorita from United States
25 August 2006

I saw this film at the Venice Film Festival and have waited a long time to comment on it as I wanted to see it again when I was released. However, it still has not come out and I don't know if it ever will.

Alec Baldwin is a writer, down on his luck and nowhere to go but down even further.

As with many viewers I suspect, I was attracted to this film by the cast and the fact that it has received so much press, good and bad. The plot is based on the old casino idea of a writer whose career in next to nil and is getting ready to self destruct – and unless you get into it, it'll feel rather forced and silly at times.

However the film helped me to overcome this by being very low key and downbeat – very much like Baldwin himself. The film is not a great thing but one that is easy to get into. The film uses Las Vegas really well but it is a classic story that is fun to believe in. It is much better than the fun, breezy and slick fantasies that we are sold in other films. The mix of romance, comedy and violence works very well – at points it was very touching, at others quite funny.

It isn't perfect of course and the writing is where the problems lie; the story did rely on the audience buying into it and at times the dialogue comes very close to corn (but just misses). The only time I felt really let down was the ending, which, although fitting with the spirit of the film, missed a great chance to be fun, exciting and original all at the same time.

Still, a good film and definitely worth the watching.

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23 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

An Excellent Movie!! It was well worth the wait.

Author: babyhayhayrocks from United States
14 August 2006

This film was shot in 2002 but it was three years later that I saw this film at the Naples Film Festival and it was a terrific film!! Anthony Hopkins was the lawyer who is hired to save Baldwin form eternal damnation and he was terrific. Jennifer Love Hewitt was sensational as the Devil and as usual, Kim Cattrall was a knock-out. Dan Akroyd really showed off his dramatic talents.

Of all the actors in the film, the one I had to rank the lowest was Baldwin. He really had no business acting or directing this film. His performance left a lot to be desired and his directing even more so. I found out later that he walked off the set after he turned in his Director's cut and they hired a new editor who literally saved this film the dying a slow death.

I read in the trades where Producers Michael Gordon and David Glasser were the ones who kept trying to keep this film from sitting on a shelf for the next twenty years and finally got Bob Yari to acquire the film from the insurance company. Make a point to see this film when it comes out, I think it was well worth the wait.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Took so long to see the light of day, because it's pretty blah.

Author: TheEmulator23 ( from S. Lake Tahoe, CA
2 February 2009

This is one of those films that I remember being in the can for years before anything happening w/it. I don't think it's terrible, but it's not really good either. Alec Baldwin was pretty good, but the plot is it kind of flimsy at best. The cast is pretty good in what they're given, but again you are only as good as the script. Baldwin directing this although I could have sworn he didn't direct all of it, I thought I read somewhere or lots of re-shoots wasn't bad but he definitely has some potential in there. Although his work on "30 Rock" is nothing short of genius & should keep him busy for a little while longer. I just hope the show bows out gracefully a la Seinfeld, but maybe not even that long. 9 years it went. So if you want to see a film that you won't get much from, but won't really hate either well this is for you. I can't remember the last time a film had been wrapped so long before finally being released & only on DVD at that. It was nice to see Alec Baldwin & Anthony Hopkins again together since their excellent yet not much people have seen "The Edge." Now pick up that excellent film for some real entertainment.

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18 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

What the heck?

Author: ganesh from Mumbai, India
29 July 2008

I went for this movie believing it had good ratings. Firstly, it is ridiculous that they're releasing a movie originally made in 2001, seven years later in 2008 here in India. Everything in the movie looks dated. Even for 2001 the movie looks like its been made on a shoe string budget. There is a scene where a taxi hits a man to elaborate how low budget you can get. Anthony Hopkins doesn't seem to know what he is doing in the film. He ends up giving a long monologue towards the end. If the film had bright sparks during that scene, I missed it as I was sleeping on my seat. Nothing about Jennifer Love Hewitt resembles a Devil. She wears ill-fitting trite clothes and scowls at random kids. As for Alec Baldwin a scene where he goes to meet Webster for the first time is not to be missed. What a waste of money! As Anthony Hopkins rightly put it, "Go back home and write better!"

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26 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

I Had A Devil Of A Time Watching This Film!!

Author: michaelzstuff from California
21 May 2005

I think this film is truly cursed! I wonder how much more could happen to it. But, to give the Devil its due, this is really a good film. I saw it at a screening and it had two of the makings of a successful film: Good cast and a good story.

However, the drawbacks are that Baldwin did a mediocre job directing it and an even more mediocre job playing the lead. BUT, in spite of Baldwin's ineptness, it actually turned out to be a very good film. I would go see it again and I would take my family to see it (if they edited out the bedroom scene).

BOTTOM LINE: It's a wonderful and classic story with a wonderful cast and somehow this film has been able to overcome all of the obstacles that stood in its way. Hopkins was great, Hewitt was terrific, Cattrall was excellent and Akroyd, as usual did a very good job.

Don't be put off by all the negative hype, go see it for yourself!!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I'd like to see the director's cut.

Author: kyleuhland from United States
16 August 2010

One of the reviews says there were three versions of the film. I'd like to see Baldwin's original cut of this movie. The last version was cut badly, there are many unnatural breaks in the film. like it was edited for commercial breaks. The breaks where scenes were cut seem apparent.

Apparently the 1941 movie suffered a similar fate, with many titles and severe editing.

The story runs counter to the traditional American ethic of money equaling happiness.

The film was purchased out of bankruptcy for a fraction of production costs, and renamed and hacked for a fast return on investment.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Mixing amateurs with pros

Author: banzanbon from New York, U.S.
16 November 2009

This movie was fun but Jennifer Love Hewitt was so utterly miscast. She's fine for some light TV but she's not a powerful enough actress to play in an ensemble of this caliber. Everyone in it, Kim Catrall, Hopkins, Rubin, Akroyd, and even Baldwin himself are quite wonderful but Ms. Hewitt throws the balance. She's the thing that spoils the movie; especially her delivery of the last "closing argument" monologue belongs in some kind of first year acting class. The movie is a bit moralistic and sentimental and in my opinion it does not live up to the actual story of The Devil and Daniel Webster which is, in many ways more subtle than how Baldwin had handled it. He's gone for a more commercial treatment of a concept whose sophistication could have been just as entertaining. All in all, it's a fun little piece thought some of the sets, the editing as well as the casting of Hewitt should have been rethought. Baldwin is a decent enough director; keeps the film moving and definitely gives the characters good arcs.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A waste of time

Author: dukane24 from United States
30 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had high hopes for it when I heard that it was being made back in 2001 because I read "The Devil and Daniel Webster" when I was a kid and I found it very interesting. They made some changes to the story that don't make much sense to me. Daniel Webster in the story was a famous lawyer from New Hampshire in the story. In the movie he is an editor. A lawyer makes more sense since he ends up representing Jabez Stone against the devil him/herself (he was a man in the story, but was a woman in the movie) in a trial where both of their souls are on the line. As an editor, it doesn't seem likely that Daniel Webster would have the skill to do this.

The acting was decent by all except for Alec Baldwin and Dan Aykroyd. These are two actors that I like, they just did an awful job in this movie. It was as though they thought they were acting in a comedy, but the movie was more a serious one than a comedy. This might be partly due to the fact that the movie was filmed with a particular vision in mind, and was then re-edited by somebody else. Given this fact, it's surprising that it was at all coherent. I was surprised to see a fair amount of SNL cast members in the movie, which further leads me to believe it may have originally been filmed with the intention of it being more of a comedy.

All in all I would have to say it wasn't completely awful, but it wasn't much good. If I could get the hour and a half back and do something else with it, I would. The ending was especially disappointing. As in the original story, Daniel Webster defeats the devil in the trial. Jabez then starts out again at the beginning of the movie...literally, we are just brought back to the first scene with Jabez, and then the movie abruptly ends. It actually looked as though they just replayed Jabez' first scene over and called it the end. There is no indication that Jabez has the benefit of any of the knowledge or experience he gained, so who is to say he didn't just repeat his mistakes over again, and perhaps over and over in an endless loop? It was an extremely disappointing end and did not make a lot of sense. The decent cast, and the acting of everyone except for Baldwin and Aykroyd are the only things that keep this from being a complete and total crap sandwich.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Smarmy, tasteless, trendily cynical rewrite of "The Devil and Daniel Webster"

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
21 July 2010

Struggling novelist, unable to get anything published much less an actual audience to read his work, enters into a pact with a comely female Satan: fame and fortune in exchange for his immortal soul. Archibald Macleish's play "Scratch" becomes an updating of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (filmed in 1941, with a panicked farmer as the tempted central figure); producer-director Alec Baldwin portrays the leading character opposite a terrific supporting cast, including Anthony Hopkins as lawyer Daniel Webster and Jennifer Love Hewitt as the Devil. Unfortunately, the movie was edited against Baldwin's wishes after sitting on the shelf for years, debuting on the Starz television network in 2007 after some brief theatrical bookings. It begins well but quickly loses its footing once Baldwin's writer gains the success he so desired, turning the picture into a yuppie treatise on the old money-can't-buy-happiness ploy. The filmmakers are so out-of-touch, they don't even consider the fact that maybe some of the writer's needs ARE fulfilled by his newfound celebrity. Instead, he turns into a sad sack with money in the bank and women at his feet--clearly not something struggling writers in real-life can identify with. Worse, there's never a moment when this man's heart is actually detectable; Baldwin is so callow an actor (not to mention as the director) that all we perceive are his handsome, unmodulated externals. He purses his lips and gazes intently at the camera, hoping to smolder, while viewers lose track of the character's roots. The final courtroom battle is well-played, though so much of the writing is smarmy, and executed without style, that the overall results are distinctly unsatisfactory. *1/2 from ****

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Write a novel

Author: vitachiel from Netherlands
28 December 2015

Again, here we have a movie that tries to be a commercial success by trying to serve everyone by trying to be many or most things. It cannot be classed because it is more than one kind of movie: black comedy, moral tale, emotion-driven drama, fantasy, post noir, court drama… And it fails miserably on all accounts.

The cast is perfectly cast: Kim Cattrall as the vain impresario, Anthony Hopkins as the wise old guy, Jennifer Love Hewitt as the femme fatale, Dan Aykroyd as the imposing yobo and Alec Baldwin as the struggling man of a certain age. Hence, a perfectly TYPE-CASTED cast.

What more to say about 'A Shortcut to Happiness'? Not much. It is boring, self-indulgent and over-ambitious. If you like those kind of movies, do not hesitate and watch it immediately.

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