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Even a well-known cast of respected actors can't bring this
ill-conceived project by actor turned director Nicolas Cage
("Adaptation") to either a dramatic or sexual 'climax' for that matter.
It's a shame that a major actor like Cage who's had the opportunity to work with almost every great director in Hollywood could have gleaned so little info about the craft of film-making.
The only thing I can say in Cage's defense is that he did hire a competent crew and he shot on film and not digital video (as opposed to real worst movie of 2002 - "Chelsea Walls" - the digital disaster by fellow first-time actor-director Ethan Hawke).
Therefore, Cage's film really isn't the worst of the year since it is at the very least - 'technically' competent, but all other creative aspects are amateurish at best. This forces an above-average cast of actors to overcompensate with mawkish, over-the-top performances - leaving the audience with no one to root for or care about.
Only Cage's marquee value (as an actor) could have gotten this soon-to-be video release a limited run in theaters (for the moment), but it won't be too long into 2003 before it hits video shelves.
Possible rental for curiosity-seekers only! You've been warned!
Acting talent of the caliber found in this film has rarely been put to such little productive use. The script was very, very poor and managed to capture very little that is characteristic of New Orleans, except perhaps the fact that you can buy a cocktail and walk with it out of the bar and down the street. Having been a prostitute does not necessarily disqualify one from all future gainful employment in legitimate occupations, and I didn't buy the fact that Sonny was automatically doomed to a life of hustling--not even in 1981 (the year chosen for the film).
Cage obviously had no clear vision of "Sonny", a lame first directorial outing which tells of a gigolo in the "Big Sleazy". The litany of foibles and flaws is too lengthy for this forum. Suffice it to say "Sonny" is a shallow, shabby, and sorely lacking film with characters who wander within their own superficiality, missed opportunities for New Orleans noir atmospherics, clumsy effects which seem like brain farts, dramatic moments incongruous with story, etc., etc. Panned by public and critics alike, this almost laughable flick can only be recommended as a curiosity. (C-)
SONNY (2002) ** James Franco, Brenda Blethyn, Mena Suvari, Harry Dean Stanton, Brenda Vaccaro, Seymour Cassel, Scott Caan, Josie Davis, Nicolas Cage. Franco stars as the titular character, a New Orleans based gigolo for hire circa 1981, whose return from a brief Army stint has him reluctantly returning to his old habits despite his attempt at a life of the clean and straight and narrow. Cage, making his directorial debut, does what he can with the listless melodramatic material by John Carlen that has elements of Tennessee Williams on its fringes and smartly lets Franco the best thing about this otherwise unremarkable film do all the heavy lifting and emoting up a storm.
Amazing actor in movies by other people, Nick Cage shames his good name in this directorial mess that has good actors doing bad things. To have the lead player (James Franco) doing a reprehensible constant sneer ala James Dean (one of Franco's earlier parts) was just another clue to bad, bad, bad directing. The only shiner in this mess was the lovely and sometimes amazing Mena Suvari who has shown a brilliant future in the business. Brenda Blethyn also scored here. I always think when the director of a movie has to play a part in it, it is already sunk. This was then, no surprise to me when Cage "came out" in the last few moments as a twisted, drug addled fag, wearing a yellow suit, whose useless life needed just one more party. Waste of time, watcher beware, pointless mess.
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