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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.
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.
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!!
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.
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 ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is not a coincidence that the 2 words painless and penniless
resemble each others. Pain makes our greatness, no doubt about that.
However, in today's world, some people just proved the opposite. This
movie comes to say that meaning with good intentions, talking in rare
time about many writers who have big success out of soulless works
(the rest of books that Daniel Webster published away from the few
great ones he really respects). It didn't forget to mention the big yet
empty Hollywood blockbusters also, that earn millions while not saying
a thing, or be totally forgotten later. Selling without soul does sound
like selling the soul for what end up as cheaper matters in comparison.
So would you live paradise on earth without soul? Well, the real
question is : could you? Obviously (The Devil and Daniel Webster) is
another Faust that asks and answers that, yet done so poorly.
Defending this movie is a lost cause. It seemed like a long episode of (Amazing Stories), and without the wit of that show too. Baldwin did direct it lifelessly and tastelessly. The important situations were done non-importantly (The agreement's scene for little instance). For one, so unfortunate, time I witnessed Anthony Hopkins acting badly, OH MY GOD, the great man was doing his job indifferently like it's a cold rehearsal all along. You have to suspect, or be sure, that this is an outcome for the "no" efforts of the man behind the camera this round. Baldwin must have been shy to direct the Hopkins himself !
Jennifer Love Hewitt was unbelievably miscast to historical extent. I mean WHY ???!!!!! If the devil is that ugly, then fighting it would be so easy job! Look at the scene where she has to take her coat off, seducing the lead to sell his soul; then rewind but replacing Marilyn Monroe instead. Actually I don't need to do that to know HOW AWFUL HEWITT WAS! The moment of her saying "when was the last time you woke up on the bed with a girl like **me** ?!" is whether a hint about Baldwin as a virgin, or it is one of the most comic moments ever ! (I know that I laughed a lot after it !).
Yes, there are some smart points, like transforming the contract into sex. But the death of the friend, the second friend, was a bit fabricated or just too metaphoric (the end of the true writer inside the lead?). Then the stroke. The major pain. The basic crap. And I do mean the climactic sequence. While being the movie's highest point at all, it has the poorest acting, directing, and writing. Surely the speech of Hopkins's character didn't persuade me even for a second, the devil's one was stronger and truer. As you see, this movie doesn't know how to save its lead, or itself !
As I read at the Trivia section; after filming was completed in 2001 the movie has been shelved for nearly 6 years due to lack of funds. Then it was extensively re-edited after coming into the possession of Bob Yari Productions, and no longer bears any resemblance to its original form or to Stephen Vincent Benet's short story. So Baldwin has since requested that his name be removed from the credits as director and producer. According to what I watched, I couldn't agree more ! So whatever it's Baldwin's, Bob Yari Productions', or even the devil's fault, the weak effect that (Shortcut to Happiness) achieved, especially after so pale and unexplained finale, does make you remember it at best as "not bad" movie. There weren't enough elements to eventually call it "good". Simply good intentions can't make a good movie alone.
I saw this movie because of Jennifer Love Hewitt (she's so cute!), but,
well, maybe i shouldn't have. It isn't exactly boring, but it isn't
It's not the worst movie ever, it has some great ideas but they're not as exploited as they could have been, the acting is decent (except for Alec Baldwin who just overdoes it).
If you don't have anything better to do (or to watch), well, it will keep you busy for an hour and a half... But maybe you'd better check Bedazzled out, it's way more funny than Shortcut to Happiness ! (PS: Sorry if I made some syntax or spelling mistakes, i'm french)
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.
In Manhattan, the aspirant writer Jabez Stone (Alec Baldwyn) is a
complete loser: he is not able to sell his novels, he lives in a lousy
apartment and he does not have success with women. When one of his
friends Julius Jenson (Dan Aykroyd) sells his novel for US$ 190,000.00
to an editor, Jabez fells envy and promises to sell his soul to the
devil for success and accidentally kills a woman with his typing
machine. The Devil (Jeniffer Love Hewitt) knocks on his door, fixes the
situation and seals a contract with Jabez. His low quality novels have
bad reviews but become best-sellers; Jabez enriches; has success with
women, but has no time for his friends. Jabez meets with the publisher
Daniel Webster (Anthony Hopkins) who offers him a chance to break the
contract with the devil.
"The Devil and Daniel Webster" is an original and delightful version of Faust, alternating comedy and drama and giving great messages in the end. The lovely and cute Jeniffer Love Hewitt "steals" the movie with her interpretation of a sexy and smart devil. Anthony Hopkins has another top-notch performance. Kim Cattrall is very comfortable performing Constance Hurry that recalls Samantha, from "Sex and the City". Dan Aykroid shows talent in his dramatic interpretation and is a good surprise. Alec Baldwyn has a good performance too in spite of some bad reviews, and I did not know that the director Harry Kirkpatrick is actually a pseudonym of Alec Baldwyn. In the end, this movie is a pleasant and worthwhile entertainment. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "O Julgamento do Diabo" ("The Trial of the Devil")
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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