27 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Killer Joe (2011)
A Disturbing, Freaky, Hilarious Film
3 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe I'm projecting here but I think this film has a socio-political message, and one I fully subscribe to. If you are a conservative redneck, you'll probably like this movie because you can identify with the characters. If you are a proud Texan, you won't like it because it does your state no favors. And if you are a progressive, you might like it because of how it portrays redneck Texans and because of the veiled slap at the Pro-Life conservatives at the end of the film. Here is a movie where none of the characters have any respect for human life except for that of the unborn as revealed when Dottie says she is pregnant at the very end of the movie. It's the first time Joe has smiled in the entire story.

It's a dark comedy, very dark. It's also disturbingly violent in places, as well as being misogynistic. The most disturbing scene involves fellatio with a chicken leg from K-Fried-C that substitutes for an attached penis. There are hints of a near-incestuous relationship between Chris and his sister, Dottie. Dottie is beautiful, though a bit disturbed. But who wouldn't be living the way she lives with a father who cares nothing for her (to the point where he is fine with offering her as a "retainer" to Joe for services rendered), and a step-mother who respects her so little that she walks around the house naked in front of her. Chris seems to care more about her than anyone else in the family, including her real mother who, as she relates, tried to kill her when she was a baby. But again, there is that feeling that something isn't quite normal between them. Well, they did sleep together when they were children. Maybe they did more than just sleep.

I gave this a 9 for being funny, intriguing, thought-provoking, and for going where few movies have the guts to go. If you don't get offended easily, you should see it. It's a movie you will be thinking about for days. And if you're a woman, you may never eat chicken again.
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Larry Crowne (2011)
I left the theater feeling good about it
2 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I love Tom Hanks and I love his directing style. That Thing You Do remains one of my favorite movies ever and this film, Larry Crowne, has the same feel about it, though the subject matter is completely different.

I didn't expect too much before watching the movie because of the lukewarm reception by some of the critics. But I have learned not to rely too heavily on professional reviewers because I so often disagree with them. To me, a film is successful if it is satisfying. If there is one word to describe Larry Crowne it is satisfying - in a feel-good sort of way.

This is not Hanks' greatest film, but it doesn't set out to be. It accomplishes what Hanks seems to have set out to do. It tells a story about a man who, after getting a divorce and then being fired from his job, has to cope with reevaluating his life and reshuffling his priorities. I like the way it didn't revert to the banal going-into- deep-depression and feeling-sorry-for-myself modes. Hanks' character takes the next logical step to being fired for not having enough education and signs up for college. And he succeeds brilliantly at it.

Julia Roberts plays one of his college professors who is struggling with burn out and a dysfunctional marriage. She nails the character, Mrs. Tainot, beautifully. But the best supporting character is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She is gorgeous but in a cute way, not in a runway model way. She plays the free spirited, scooter-riding college friend who takes over without asking and proceeds to do a make-over on Crowne. It works, though, as Crowne's image is substantially improved by her wardrobe and hair style changes on him.

I won't give away the ending, but there are no surprises here. You wouldn't expect one from a Tom Hanks film. There's nothing cutting edge about it either. But despite one or two plot turns that force you to suspend your disbelief for a fraction of a second (such as actually getting fired after years as a successful employee because your boss feels your lack of education is hurting your potential to be promoted), the film succeeds. There are no cringe moments, no vulgarity (I don't even think it used its one-allowed, obligatory F-word), and no tedious scenes of theatrical irony. It's just a simple, entertaining, feel-good movie that makes you happy. And sometimes, that's what a movie should be.
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Knowing (2009)
What was the point of leaving warnings?
10 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I liked the movie. It had lots of intrigue, great special effects, and good deal of action. That being said, I did not understand the premise.

Aliens apparently left coded warnings of future disasters by encoding them in the brain of a school girl who scrawled them on a note to be left in a time capsule in 1953. The time capsule was not to be opened for 50 years. Yet almost all of the predictions were for catastrophes that took place before the opening. What was the point of that? If it was simply to validate the code, then what was the point of predicting the end of everything when nobody could do anything to stop it anyway?

The aliens obviously knew well in advance what was going to happen, down to the exact time and location. They had already implanted a homing beacon, so to speak, in many of Earth's children. They really didn't need the coded predictions, which is what almost the entire movie is based around. It's a huge plot hole.
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Premonition (I) (2007)
The trouble with causality...
17 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When people start traveling backward and forward in time in movies, I get annoyed when the plot gets tangled up in that old time-travel gremlin, causality. When that happens, the entire film becomes unbelievable and confusing. So it is with Premonition.


The movie starts on a Thursday when Sandra Bullock's character is informed that her husband died the day before in an auto accident. Just before the officer informed her, she was listening to a message from her husband on the answering machine. At the end of the message, he was interrupted by another call. That call turned out to be her, in the past, trying to warn him of his impending collision but failing.

In fact, she is the one who killed her husband. If she had not tried to warn him, he would not have been killed.

Ultimately, it turned out to be one of those movies where the wife kills the husband to get the insurance. But instead of being written in the style of Law and Order, it is written as a suspense thriller time shifting movie.

It was a little slow paced throughout for me. And I really hated the ending. There are some unanswered questions and some plot devices, such as the dead bird, that were placed in the movie solely to let the audience know what day it was.

It wasn't awful, but it certainly didn't live up to its hype. And of course that whole causality glitch: He wouldn't have died if she hadn't tried to warn him, but she wouldn't have tried to warn him if she hadn't found out he had gotten killed. I gave it a 6.
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Spanglish (2004)
Simply the finest movie I have ever seen
15 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
People sometimes ask me what my favorite movie is. I have always had a tough time with that question, because, just like with my favorite music, the answer depends on what mood I'm in at the time. My favorite comedy is probably "Down Periscope." My favorite date movie is probably "You've Got Mail." My favorite action adventure is probably "The Italian Job," or maybe "The Score." But my favorite movie of all time, I really couldn't answer. Now I can.

I've seen "Spanglish" a number of times, including once in the theater. I own the DVD. But every time I watch it, I grow to like it better. Now, after seeing it tonight, for about the fifth time, I can honestly state that it is my all-time favorite movie of any genre.

It is the perfect movie, I've discovered. Every actor, especially Adam Sandler, plays their parts to perfection. I can identify with each and every one. I've never been a big fan of Cloris Leachman, but I loved her in this film. Her character was precious.

Paz Vega is beautiful and talented. Although her character is far too overprotective of her daughter, their association is clarified by the end. It is one of the most poignant moments I've ever seen in any movie.

I don't like a great deal of character development in most movies I watch, especially the action movies. But the interpersonal relationships that are developed in this movie are developed to perfection. The writing, dialogue, and direction are superb. Why this movie isn't rated among the top 100 in beyond me. It's funny where it needs to be and touching where it has to be but without being overtly maudlin, although I've cried every time I've watched it. (Yeah, I know. I'm a middle-aged man who seldom cries over anything, but this movie gets me.) Suffice it to say, if there was any movie that ever came close to perfection, this one is it. Enough said.
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Intrigueing and Thrilling
20 May 2006
Let me start by saying I did not read the book. There is one thing I've discovered about movies based on novels. Most often, if you've read the book, you hate the movie. Those who don't read the book are usually in a better position to provide an unbiased review.

I love Tom Hanks as an actor. He can play almost any role to perfection. Having said that, this part is still a stretch for him. It could have been better cast.

Still, I really liked the movie. It was all it was billed as. I liked the cinematography. And I even enjoyed the "talking heads" moments. I know it's fiction, but Brown has said his research while writing the book did reveal factual evidence, and I believe there is probably more truth in the movie than what most religious groups would want us to believe.

Face it; if it were all nothing but fiction, the Catholic church wouldn't be so worried about it. And, of course, everyone knows the church has been one of history's biggest villains. I know something of religious history, and much of what the talking heads were discussing is true. That makes the movie better, being based on actual events, even if highly embellished.

Even though it's fictional, it's still a movie everyone should see. It can lead some to question the role of religion in their lives. And that's a good thing.
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A sinister, creepy, and ingenious movie
20 December 2004
I had my doubts about this movie, but my daughter insisted that I go watch it with her. She has read every one of the Snicket books.

I'm glad I acquiesced, because I thoroughly enjoyed this peculiar film. I especially enjoyed the children. I've always thought Liam Aiken should have a lead role in a film. Emily Browning, though only a teenager, is seductively beautiful. Both their characters, as well as the younger sibling, are very bright and resourceful. It's a trait I, as a teacher, enjoy seeing in kids.

The artwork, cinematography, and directing were superior. It was beautiful, but delightfully creepy. The plot started a bit slow and tedious, but became more intriguing.

Jim Carrey was a bit over-the-top as Olaf. But then, that's Jim Carrey. I was also a little annoyed that the adult characters in the film all seemed quite clueless, at least in the beginning.

Overall, however, the story was clever and original. The movie was intriguing and entertaining. I gave it an 8.
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A Treasure in Itself
20 November 2004
National Treasure is a really, really fun film. It has action, adventure, and comedy all wrapped up in one, with a side of romance. Although its premise is shaky (though intriguing), and it moves through time a little too fast at the beginning, it still is an impressive flick.

Justin Bartha's character was a treasure himself for his comic relief. Diane Kruger is a real beauty. And Nicholas Cage holds it all together as the mastermind tracking down all the clues to the greatest treasure in the world.

Admittedly, you have to suspend your disbelief. I mean, they made stealing the Declaration of Independence look far too easy. But then, that was only a small part of the plot, so I'll forgive it for that.

It's not a caper movie, although there's a caper in it. It's not a love story, although there is a hint of romance between Cage's and Kruger's characters. And it's not a comedy, although there is plenty to laugh at. Whatever genre you want to put it in, it was very fun to watch. I can't wait to buy this one on DVD. I gave it a 9.
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The Village (2004)
Love story masquerading as a thriller
1 August 2004
I loved "The Sixth Sense." I liked "Signs" even though it was full of plot holes and really stretched common sense to the breaking point. But I didn't care much for Night's latest "thriller."

"The Village" is a love story set in what appears to be the late 18th or early 19th century. It is about a group of commune dwellers who have escaped the brutality and depravity of "the towns."

What it wants to be is a thriller. But it was a big disappointment in that arena. The creatures, "Those whom we do not speak of," although the villagers speak of little else, play only a minor role in this film.

It begins to get a little interesting during the last 30 minutes of the movie, but the surprise ending, although a fairly clever concept, doesn't really work. It was disappointing, given all the hype.

I gave it a 5.
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Really good action flick, but....
23 July 2004
I loved the first movie, The Bourne Identity. But at the end of that movie, you kind of got the idea that Bourne settled down with the lady of his dreams and lived happily ever after.

This sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, had to untie the nice ending of the first flick to make a bunch of loose ends, which it then proceeded to tie together again by the end of this movie.

That's ok, though. It made for a really cool action flick, complete with car chases, crashes, foot chases, fights, and lots of shooting. That on top of the mystery and intrigue.

There were two things I didn't care for, however. One was that Julia Stiles' part was too small - again. Most importantly, however, is that the cinematography was absolutely horrid. It looked like a home video, especially during the fight scenes and car chases. It made my head spin, and there was no way to visually keep up with the action. Even during the office sequences, the images were blurred and shaky. I guess they figured they wouldn't need to hire a choreographer for the fight sequences if only the camera were shaky enough to disguise all the mistakes of the actors.

That said, I still highly recommend the movie if you like action and mystery. Those of you who are prone to motion sickness, however, should take some Dramamine first.
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Not bad for a documentary
27 June 2004
Actually, I tend to like documentaries. But I've never gone to see one in a theater until Farenheit 9/11.

It made me laugh; it made me angry. But it also made me shake my head a bit with its liberal use of cheap shots, (pardon the pun). It was a bit too preachy, and it is clearly a movie that the bleeding hearts can rally around, especially those who continue to believe the poor black folk are still being trodden upon.

Still, I liked it overall. It made a comment that needed to be made. And it made it quite effectively. After seeing this film, I don't know how anyone could vote to re-elect Bush. I voted for him in 2000; I won't make that mistake again.

Micahel Moore knows how to get his points across. He uses humor, biting satire, and dramatic sequences. The worst part about the movie for me was that it had far too much maudlin footage of crying mothers who had lost a son in Iraq. Yeah, I know it's sad to have to bury a son or daughter, but I don't need to pay good money to sit in a seat at the theater and watch some lady bellow on and on about it.

That said, I would highly recommend watching this film. It's a documentary everyone should see. I gave it an 8.
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Saved! (2004)
The Passion of the Jesus Freaks
19 June 2004
I've always confessed to being a Christian, perhaps because I knew little else when I was growing up. But I've never really understood the "Jesus freaks." They all seem so eager to die and get their "reward." And, of course, they want to take everyone else with them.

This movie uses biting satire to expose the right-wing zealots for the narrow-minded, self-righteous, judgmental minions they are. And I loved every minute of it.

It was funny and touching. It wasn't a laugh riot, but the humor was well-spaced and perfectly timed. And it was well blended with just the right amount of tenderness of feeling.

The most "Christ-like" characters were, of course, the backsliders and the non-believers. And in some ways, that is a reflection of real life. That's not to say all Christians are evil, but the irony is that many of the most conservative of the charismatics come close to being the exact opposite of what the bible portrays Jesus as being.

"Saved!" takes every opportunity to expose fundamentalists for what they are. That's its biggest attraction, and that's what may very well kill it at the box office, since a big chunk of middle America and the South will shun this movie, for fear of seeing themselves.

The movie was well acted and well paced. I love Mandy Moore, but I hated her character in this film, as I was supposed to. Jena Malone is another one of my favorites, and this was by far her best role. She was wonderful in it.

Overall, I gave it a 9.
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Inaccuracies and plot holes cover this film like a glacier
29 May 2004
I'll have to admit, I sat through the whole 2 hours without falling asleep. It kept my attention, which is what disaster movies are all supposed to do, and many fail.

However, that said, I also must confess that I thought this film was a disaster itself. There were far too many plot holes and inaccuracies to be convincing.

Ok, I realize that it's not real science. But couldn't they at least take the time to make ocean currents flow in the right direction on the animated map?

And, come on now. Would a climatologist who knows the dangers of this huge blizzard hurricane risk not only himself but two of his best friends to go in search of his son? What did he expect to do after he found him? And I don't believe for one minute they actually walked from Pennsylvania to NYC in the worst blizzard in human history and got there in just a couple of days without so much as a frost bite.

The special effects were pretty good. But, overall, it was totally unbelievable. I gave it a 4.
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Love Actually (2003)
Simply the best romantic comedy ever
29 April 2004
I'm a middle-aged guy, but in addition to the action/adventure movies that most males my age like, I also tend to enjoy romantic comedies - date movies. I loved "You've Got Mail," and "Two Weeks Notice" because they were funny as well as touching.

But I'll have to say that "Love Actually" is my favorite. Its all-star ensemble cast does an excellent job in making their characters totally believable. But, most importantly, this movie left me laughing hysterically through the whole thing. It had its share of touching moments, too.

I gave it a 10.
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A surprisingly good family film
14 March 2004
I rented the DVD because I was simply in the mood to watch a movie, and I'd seen almost everything else new that hadn't already been rented out. So I gave "Children on Their Birthdays" a shot, not expecting too much.

I was surprised to discover that I really enjoyed it. In fact, the day after I had watched it, I found myself thinking about the characters and smiling. So I bought the DVD and have watched it several times since then.

I won't go into a detailed description, because that's already been done. But the characters are endearing. Despite a forced southern accent by Miss Lily Jane Bobbit, she is still the centerpiece of the movie. All the children performed wonderfully.

The movie is a study in contrasts: Honesty vs. dishonesty, rural vs. urban, child vs. adult, etc. Overall, it's a movie deserving of a higher rating than it has received.

I gave it an 8.
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I loved this flick
7 February 2004
I'm glad they finally released it on DVD. I bought the video tape years ago and watch it at least once or twice a year.

Grammer has a wry wit about him that really makes this movie a success. Its formula is certainly not original, but it's very funny nonetheless. I am very surprised that it didn't receive higher in the ratings.

It ranks as one of my all-time favorite comedies. It's just a fun little flick that makes you feel good. And sometimes, that's all a movie is meant to be.
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Groundhog Day (1993)
A funny and charming flick
2 February 2004
I just love this movie. It is Bill Murray's best. Our family watches it every year on Groundhog Day. It's a tradition.

The movie stars Bill Murray as an egocentric weatherman who wakes up in Punxatauny, PA, where he is reporting on the annual Groundhog Day celebration, over and over again. Although he wakes up at 6:00 AM on Feb. 2 just over 30 times in the movie, it is understood from the plot that he actually goes through hundreds, if not thousands, of iterations.

He learns how to play the piano, how to ice sculpt, and how to pick up women with reckless abandon. But, finally, he learns something much more important.

During his plight of reliving Groundhog Day, he commits suicide by every means known to man. But he keeps waking up on that same morning again and again.

Andie McDowell is beautiful. Her character makes a great love interest for Murray's.

I highly recommend this movie. It's funny, at times touching, and well-acted. I gave it a 10.
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A surprisingly powerful thriller
24 January 2004
This movie was not at all like I expected. I knew it was supposed to be a thriller, but I was not prepared for how grimly disturbing this film was.

Ashton Kutcher was surprisingly believable in his new dramatic role. And Amy Smart was awesome. I've always been a big fan of Amy, but this movie presented her the vehicle to show just how diverse she is as an actress. She plays a waitress, preppy college coed, hooker, and business woman all in one film and pulls it off brilliantly.

The beginning of the movie was a bit confusing. But as the plot unfolds, the loose ends are all tied up nicely, leading to an ending that was somewhat unexpected.

The movie contains almost every kind of disturbingly taboo human behavior. Parts of it reminded me of "The Good Son," which was also a very disquieting film. But this movie was multidimensional in that the underlying reasons behind all the troubling behavior are revealed in the plot.

I also appreciated the fact that the movie didn't have a lot of gore, although it certainly could have. It just didn't need to show it all to be effective (although there are a couple of places you might want to look away).

The movie left me with a lot of mixed emotions at the end. I thought the ending was basically fine, but not totally satisfying. And it just left me with an uneasy feeling. But after having time to reflect, I can say that I would recommend this movie without reservation. Just be prepared to he unnerved.
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Good, but less enjoyable than its predecessors
29 December 2003
First, let me say that I did like "Return of the King." It's a special effects masterpiece that is destined to become a classic, along with the first two installments in the "Lord of the Rings" saga.

But, to me, it was far less enjoyable than the first two films, the second of which was the best of the three.

"King" was far too long for what it had to say. And the ending (or should I say endings) really disappointed me. I kept waiting for the film to end, but it just kept going on and on. There were at least four times that I thought the film was over, but then the next scene would fade in. It would have been a much better ending if the film had finished with the resolution of the final battle, and then showed the denouement as a montage next to the closing credits. It would have removed about 20 minutes from the overly-lengthy film and would have made the ending less of a "cut-and-paste" style.

So I'll give it a solid 7. But to me, it has been seriously over-rated by both fans and critics. I'm surprised that more of the critics, at least, haven't picked up on the weak ending.
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Depp couldn't save this convoluted plot
14 September 2003
It was a chore to sit through this movie, even though the length was not excessive. Good guys and bad guys, sometimes being difficult to tell apart, came in and out of the scene. It was a convoluted tale that was at times quirky, thanks to Johnny Depp.

But Depp couldn't save this complicated tale of deceit, assassination attempts, and senseless killings. Hayek was her usual lovely self, but she was dead throughout the entire film, appearing only in numerous flashbacks. It's hard to develop a character who's already dead.

There was plenty of action, but most of it was gratuitous. The sound was decent, probably the best part of this flick. So I gave it a 4.
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Crossroads (I) (2002)
Not nearly as bad as its bottom 100 rating suggests
31 August 2003
I'm not at all a Britney Spears fan. When she sings she sounds like Bart Simpson. And, no, she didn't put in an Academy Award performance in this movie.

However, I have to say that I did like this movie. It had a good story and was not at all the "dumb blond" movie that I expected it to be. It had heart and the characters even had some depth to them.

It was far, far better than the likes of movies that rated higher than it did, such as "The Stupids" and "Cabin Boy."

Overall, I found the movie relatively entertaining and even touching in parts. I rated it a 7.
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An unexpectedly fun and funny flick
14 July 2003
Disney flicks aren't what they used to be, and that's a good thing for adults. Sure, they still crank out the silly kids' movies that have just enough adult humor to keep the parents relatively happy. But this one is not for kids.

It's an action-adventure comedy that doesn't insult its audience with unbridled silliness. It was cleverly written and excellently played, especially the role of Jack Sparrow by Johnny Depp.

Though seemingly shallow, the character has surprising depth. Depp plays him as a quasi-homosexual, macho swordsman with a heart. He delivered his comic punch lines with impeccable timing and flawless expressions. He was the best part of a very good movie.

Is Sparrow the hero or the villain? Sometimes it's hard to tell, because he's a little of both. He is a pirate, after all. So one would expect that he would have a streak of evilness about him. And so he does. But it's not an overriding character flaw, as he redeems himself on more than one occasion.

Pirates of the Caribbean was a marvelously funny, action-packed adventure movie. It holds your attention throughout its 2-and-a-quarter hour running time. I usually say that if a director can't tell his story in under two hours, something needs to be cut. But this movie pulls it off throughout its length.

I highly recommend it and gave it a rating of 9.
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Alex & Emma (2003)
It was funny and clever.
23 June 2003
I loved this movie. It was the best romantic comedy I've seen this year, and I've seen most of them. I enjoy Kate Hudson's beauty and talent. Luke Wilson is marvelously funny. I laughed through the whole movie. The last act could have had a little more detail and structure, but overall, it was a very funny and often quite clever film.
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Phone Booth (2002)
Left me wondering what happened to the rest of the flick
6 April 2003
I like Colin Farrell. And he didn't disappoint me by his performance in this film. But when the entire movie takes place in and around a NY City phone booth, there's only so much one can accomplish with good acting alone.

We got to know Farrell's character, Stu Shepard, pretty well. But what about the caller, voiced by Kiefer Sutherland? Sutherland appeared as a character for only about 30 seconds of the movie. And except for some vague clue that he's a deranged psycho who sits in his NY window and watches the phone booth from his perch every day, getting to know the people who frequent it, we haven't a clue as to what drives this character. What was his real motive?

I also thought the ending was shallow. It left me scratching my head and wondering where the rest of the movie went.

My most fervent complaint about most movies is that they are too long. It is unusual that a director can't tell his story in under two hours, so if a movie goes much beyond that, it invariably has far too many superfluous elements. Not so with Phone Booth. It lasted only 80 minutes and could have benefitted from the addition of a couple of intriguing sub-plots.

But alas, it had but a single, shallow story line. And it played out much the way you might expect it to if you were watching it on CNN. Yes, it was a morality play, and yes it was successful in bringing out the "real" Stu Shepard. But it amounted to nothing more than a short film that was drawn out to almost feature length without the addition of any plot elements to justify its increased length.

I gave it a 6.
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It's what 21st century Westerns ought to be like
23 January 2003
Simply put, I loved this movie.

Granted, it is not Academy Award material. But then it wasn't designed to be. It's a fun movie to watch, and that's its charm.

Does it relate the true-life story of Jesse James and his gang of outlaws? Of course not. Does it depict how the rustics of the Old West actually lived? Probably not. Is it historically accurate? Not a chance.

It's not supposed to be any of those things; it's entertainment, not a documentary. If you watch this movie expecting to see some clone of the old John Wayne or Clint Eastwood westerns, you'll be disappointed. The movie was meant to be pure fun - and in that it succeeds beautifully!

I loved Ali Larter in this movie. She is beautiful. My favorite line of hers is when she's standing next to the railroad tracks after firing a cannon at a train, the gang compliments her on her accuracy. With a look of pure resolve on her face, she turns and says, "Thanks. Now go get my husband."

Colin Farrell plays his part well. Like I said, his character is not a true-life Jesse James, but a depiction of what he might be like if he were alive today but in a 19th century setting.

Kathy Bates is memorable as Ma James. Her biggest thrill seems to be in knowing that her sons pray often and kill Yankees. And Timothy Dalton played the part of Allan Pinkerton very well. It was enjoyable the way Pinkerton and Jesse developed mutual respect, though neither would admit it. It was subtextual.

I'm generally not a big fan of the Western genre. But this movie is definitely an exception. It was funny and it was lively, with lots of action. And the DVD surround sound was awesome.

I definitely recommend this movie as part of your home library. I gave it a 10.
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