Reviews written by registered user

Page 1 of 3:[1] [2] [3] [Next]
22 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Cheap as a Crummy Knockoff, 4 January 2004

Two words: Visible Boom Mike. In at least 5 scenes. Porn movies have greater attention to production values than this piece of miserable dreck. Better pacing too. (And yes, that's 3 words. See one of the repeated, lame jokes in the movie.)

Admittedly, the original wasn't all that great. Recall the disgusting Planned Parenthood scene. (Overpopulation? Unwanted pregnancy? Faw! Feminists are simply repressed lesbians. The more rugrats the merrier!). This remake tries to update a reactionary formula with its own 21st Century version of patronizing "family values" and stupid sexism. Now, Dad actually tries his hand at childrearing and fails (mother knows best, of course), while Mom discovers that having a professional life is nothing compared to the joys of families. This is progress? And it's always so gratifying to watch Hollywood celebrities extol simple, honest rural folk whose moral superiority to big-city hypocrites makes one wonder why all of LA doesn't just move to Dubuque en masse.

I guess I should be grateful that this miserable bit of Hollywood insincerity is so ineptly executed. But what's with Steve Martin? In yet another performance that looks phoned in from another planet, in the latest of a string of unfunny comedies dating back to "Mixed Nuts," he practically invites musings such as, how many botox treatments has he undergone? And: is he now the go-to guy for terrible remakes of mediocre "classic" comedies (see the treacly "Father of the Bride")? Oh God: I see that he's up next in a remake of the Pink Panther.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Imitation of Life, 13 November 2003

This film, about a dwindling band of normals seek to survive in a world infested with rage-infected zombies, is well-executed, but can't hold a candle to the real thing. Turn on U.S. talk radio sometime and you'll see what I mean.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Snap! Snap!, 15 July 2003

Just as she did in the first "Legally Blonde," Elle Woods encounters a world full of churlish elitists who disdain her seeming Barbie doll personality and wins them over through the sheer force of her implacable optimism and good will. Too bad the same can't be said of the stick-in-the-mud critics and IMDB users who have driven this silly, delightful movie into the ratings basement. Yo! Lighten up, girlfriends!

"Legally Blonde 2" traffics in broad humor (no pun intended. Seriously). Very broad humor. As such it's not for everybody, but in a world where a no-talent hack like Adam Sandler (and the more talented but wildly overrated Farelly brothers) can rake in millions and accolades (at least in the latter case) out of gross-out jokes about body fluids, surely there is room in our funny bones for a ditzy innocent like Elle Woods. True, broad humor is often the refuge of the cliche comic imagination, and a franchise that rests on an incarnation of Barbie risks falling into predictable jokes of the "dumb blonde" genre.

But the happy fact is that "Legally Blonde 2" keeps the material fresh even as it plows terrain made familiar by Judy Holliday, Marilyn Monroe, and Alicia Silverstone. It does so a) by having a lot of fun with the material and b) being blessed with the inexhaustibly delightful talents of Reese Witherspoon, whose perky, wall-to-wall smile practically lives a life of its own, and who delivers her lines with all the conviction that her character Elle would have brought to the role if she were playing it.

And although it would be a stretch to call Elle a feminist (except insofar as she is not ruled by anyone, let alone a man), neither is the film reactionary, unlike, say, cynical pseudo-feminist claptrap like Charlie's Angels. In fact, it's best just to leave any expectations of social uplift, political analysis, or emotional insights at home, just as one would for a pedicure, bubble bath, or slumber party. Girls just want to have fun. Sometimes that's all we all want, or need.

A Con Story in More Ways Than One (Spoilers), 30 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To judge from the comments posted so far, few if any viewers have actually read the book on which this movie is based, which may explain the generally good reception. However, if you have read the book, as I have, you are in for a disconcerting experience, because roughly 75% of it has been altered, invented, and/or omitted in the transition to screenplay.

Yes, the movie merely says it's "inspired" by Abagnale's book, and we all know that movies have to punch up autobiograpical material in places to appeal to movie audiences. And 2 hours inevitably requires compressing (and discarding) a lot of material.

But the problem with "Catch Me" is that the alterations often don't make sense even from a movie point of view. For instance, early in the movie Abagnale uses a bogus check to "pay" a hooker. This scene comes out of nowhere, is played entirely for (minor) laughs, and is promptly forgotten. In the book, the event appears much later, and Abagnale makes clear that this broke his own personal code of only ripping off banks and similar institutions, not people, and was justified only because she came on to him under false pretenses. This interesting moral nuance is thus completely lost in the movie, rendering the scene pointless.

Also, incomprehensibly, the movie fails to follow Abagnale on his European adventures, including his amazing "marketing" scam involving unsuspecting would-be "stews" (which is instead implausibly turned into a ruse to get past Hanratty at Miami Intl Airport). This story, which ends with his getting ratted out by a French former girlfriend and thrown in an appalling French prison, is far more dramatic, and cinematic, than the heavily abbreviated rendition of it in the movie.

Even more unsatisfiying is the omission of Abagnale's hilariously brazen escape from the Atlanta prison where he is initially transferred after being returns to the States, not to mention his first close brush with Hanratty, or his near-fatal slip-up involving a forged check with his real name on it. Why call a movie "Catch Me If You Can" if you are going to leave the book's most memorable escapes on the cutting room floor?

Spielberg's apparent decision to cut the book's heady mix of sex, cons and exotic locations in favor of a trite (and contrived) psychological subplot about Frank Jr.'s Oedipal problems, only succeeds in robbing the story of the precise reasons we go to see films about such a James Bond-like figure in the first place (the film's dashing title sequence hints at the movie that could have been). "Catch Me If You Can" was moreover an autobiography, not a work of fiction. What Spielberg gives us is an imitation of that autobiography. In short, the film is itself a con, and only a mildly good one at that. Looks like audiences are too fixated on the pin stripes (see the movie to get the reference) to care.

Easily One of the Worst Movies I Have Seen, 17 May 2002

"Attack of the Clones" is just dreadful on almost every level: plodding plot, leaden acting, cardboard dialog, clumsy editing, painfully trite themes, unfunny stabs at humor--even the vaunted action sequences, hyperkinetic though they are, have zero emotional involvement.

And why should they? As Frank de Caro put it on The Daily Show last night, Yoda has more personality than any of the living breathing characters on the screen. Hell, the clones themselves are more interesting.

The advance screening I saw yesterday had the audience howling in derision at the serious parts and groaning at the funny bits. I actually had to avert my eyes, such was embarrassment at the thought of having to sit through this.

With the one-two punch of The Phantom Menace and, now Attack of the Clones, George Lucas stands revealed as the P.T Barnum of cinema, turning out cynical, overhyped dreck for uncritical consumption by the brainwashed booboisie. If this movie makes big money, Lucas should title his next installment, "Return to the Egress." Barnum would have enjoyed the in-joke.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Dirty Harry Lives (Spoilers), 13 January 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This forgettable bit of vigilantist drivel takes the hot-button topic du jour--child porn--and uses it to flog the audience's basest emotions. There is nothing in this film--nothing--that we haven't seen before: the PI running from his past, the corrupt cop, slimy bad guys, wide-eyed innocent naifs, etc., etc. They even recycle Ciaran Hinds role as the pedarast cop in Prime Suspect 3--a far, far better treatment of the same subject matter.

All in all, proof that foreign films can be just as cyniccally manipulative as the most meretricious Hollywood dreck.

An epic worthy of the label, 20 December 2001

A magnificent piece of film that works on all levels: dramatically, thematically, visually, musically, the works. It blows Harry Potter into the middle of next week.

Even if only one a visual level, LOTR works because of the utter verisimilitude that its New Zealand locations and scrupulous attention to detail help sustain. Unlike Harry Potter, there is hardly a whiff of the studio set in the entire film, and the special effects, though indispensible to the film, are carried off by and large understatedly. Yes, Virginia, it is possible for special effects to be a means, not an end in itself.

But what really makes the movie succeed is the complete immersion of the actors in their roles. There is none of the smirking, postmodern irony that afflicts actors in the typical post-Star Wars clones, the suggestion to the audience that we all know that this is just a special-effects-driven, rollicking good time, not meant to be taken seriously. These actors clearly believe in their roles, in the values of the book, and in each other, and the payoff for the audience is complete emotional absorption into the drama of their adventure.

The audience anticipation for the next two installments--which are already in the can--is going to be excruciating. I wouldn't be surprised if a mob stormed the vaults to get them released early.

This is one movie that can't be overhyped--though, as you can see, I'm trying.

The Middle Ages for Middle Agers, 7 December 2001

What detractors seem to miss about this movie is its ironic fidelity to its subject matter. Contemporary sensibility assumes that the Middle Ages were one long unrelieved landscape of suffering, repression and despair, relieved, if you can call it that, only by religion. Much the opposite is the case, as fans of the bawdy Chaucer--a major figure in the movie--will attest. Lusty characters, over the top spectacle, good vs. evil morality plays, and a love of popular music were all very much a part of life in the Middle Ages. "A Knight's Tale" has the courage to take its subject matter on its own terms, conventional assumptions about it be damned. Along the way it provides a rollicking good time, and a few lumps in the throat for good measure. Plus, we middle agers get to re- experience music that, to young whippersnapper ears jaded by hip-hop and Brittney Spears, must indeed sound like it came from the same period as Chaucer, or the next one over.

The Cell (2000)
Tortured Plot (Possible Spoilers), 27 December 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How many plot contrivances can one movie support to get to its central conceit? To get an idea, see "The Cell", where a child psychologist and an FBI agent mind meld with a serial killer in an effort to save his final victim:

1) There exists a lab in the middle of nowhere that is dedicated to psychiatry of the comatose. When the movie begins, it has one patient.

2) There is a no-longer-used third mind-meld apparatus at the lab.

3) Our serial killer has a thing for time delaying his victims' deaths, thereby building in the obligatory dramatic race against the clock without requiring his actual presence at the moment of death.

4) Our serial killer also has an extremely rare form of schizophrenia which one day will act suddenly to render him permanently comatose.

5) Our serial killer has his long-delayed, once-in-a-lifetime attack of this disorder minutes before he is seized by the FBI.

6) The FBI agent needs to go into the serial killer's mind to discover the crucial clue, which turns out to be an ordinary forensic detail that would have been discovered by any reasonably competent investigator not encumbered with having to resist being seduced by Jennifer Lopez in a serial killer's dreamworld.

If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to get around all that, you would also find being suspended by wires from hooks embedded in your back a "comforting" experience, just like our serial killer.

Memo to Mind-Meld Lab: if you want to make progress with your comatose child patient, stop sending Ms. Lopez into his pubescent subconscious. What's the incentive to be cured, when one's id is getting regular one-on-one visits from Jennifer Lopez in a skin-tight Mae West castoff designed by Salvador Dali? Talk about your recipe for malingering....

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Pretentious Mess, 8 October 2000

When I first saw this movie in 1973, I was scared and confused by it. I

was also 15. Seeing it again for the first time since then, I can say it

held up well in one respect: it's still confusing as hell.

The movie suggests at the outset that Evil is Afoot with a prolonged

sojourn to Iraq, where Max von Sydow's archeological crew has come

across some biblical knickknacks and ugly statues. One of these

knickknacks apparently has Great Significance, because von Sydow

spends a long time looking at it. Later on this tchotchke will inexplicably

turn up at the scene of a suspicious death. How did it get there? That's

the least of the unanswered questions that this movie leaves strewn all

over the screen like so much projectile vomit.

Meanwhile over in the good old USA, the daughter of Chris McNeil

(Ellen Burstyn), Regan, is acting strangely, and not just because Linda

Blair can't act. She has gone from the sweet, sensitive pubescent girl

with the drawing talent of a precocious 6 year old, to a foul-mouthed

masturbating demon. Sounds like puberty to me. But in this film,

nothing is as simple as it seems. Cue "Tubular Bells."

Along the way William Friedkin sets the tone of omnipresent menace by

suggesting that Reagan's possession is part of a Larger Pattern of

Things Falling Apart, pieces of which include antiwar protests, a rising

divorce rate, and gay film directors. William Friedkin, meet Bill Bennett

and Lynne Cheney; Bill, Lynne, William Friedkin.

The film strives for big statements about Evil and Faith, but doesn't

seem to have a clue what it's talking about. Why does the Devil pick

this nondescript preteen to toss around like a Cabbage Patch Doll?

Father Merrin tells the guilt-ridden Father Damien it's so that he can

convince us humans that we are nothing more than rutting animals. Oh,

I see. And all this time I thought it was Linda Blair's subsequent film

career that did that.

The film is not without its shocking moments (the most grisly, perhaps

ironically, being an excruciating spinal tap scene), but the payoff is so

brief, the buildup so tediously portentous, and the happy denouement

so absurdly improbable (why doesn't the Devil just hop back into

Regan?) that all we're left with are those nagging unanswered

questions, the biggest being, WHAT THE HELL IS LEE J. COBB


Page 1 of 3:[1] [2] [3] [Next]