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Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins) invented corn flakes. Along
with his other believes in health, he opened a sanitarium in Battle
Creek, Michigan. William (Matthew Broderick) is a new patient following
his wife Eleanor Lightbody (Bridget Fonda) who is a Kellogg devotee. On
the train there, they encounter Charles Ossining (John Cusack) who is
trying to profit from the health food craze with partner Goodloe Bender
(Michael Lerner). George (Dana Carvey) is Kellogg's disappointing
adopted son who is always looking for money.
This is a lot wacky turn-of-the-century health ideas. The problem is that the movie is in love with them. They take the place of a compelling story. The vast cast of characters keep the plot scattered and unfocused. It tries to be a screwball comedy but it's not funny. Alan Parker seems happy to let the plot lines drift while he pays more attention to the unusual health practices. It doesn't help that almost every character is played odd and broad.
It's 1954. Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster) comes from the northwest section
of Baltimore in a Jewish neighborhood. There is institutionalized
anti-Semitism. He lives with his older brother Van (Adrien Brody),
mother Ada (Bebe Neuwirth), father Nate (Joe Mantegna) and grandma.
Integration is bringing in blacks and Ben falls for Sylvia as she
introduces him to black culture. Van obsesses over blonde WASP princess
Dubbie. Her complicated boyfriend Trey Tobelseted takes him under his
wing to the confusion of his racist friend Ted. Nate runs the numbers
and has a burlesque theater as his legitimate business. Small-time weed
pusher Little Melvin (Orlando Jones) hits it big on the numbers.
Filmmaker Barry Levinson brings his Baltimore hometown onto the screen. I don't find Ben Foster's side of the story that compelling when it probably should be the A story. The more fascinating story is Adrien Brody and his obsession with Dubbie and her complicated relationship with Trey. Also Yussel is a funny character. There is some great music like James Brown in the movie and it's a terrific era for that. I wish the movie has more period rock music integrated into its tone.
Charles (Clive Owen) and Deanna Schine (Melissa George) are in a
troubled marriage. Their sick daughter Amy (Addison Timlin) notices. He
meets Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) on the train to work. They
flirt and start to meet more often. He's having trouble at work as a
financial adviser. He's saving money for anti-rejection drugs for Amy's
kidney transplant. After betting Lucinda that he could kiss her without
touching her, they go to a sleazy hotel together. LaRoche (Vincent
Cassel) hold them up and rapes Lucinda. She tells him not to call the
cops. LaRoche soon starts blackmailing him. He tells ex-con Winston
Boyko who works at his company.
The sick daughter really screws things up. It makes it hard to sympathize with Charles who is cheating not only on Deanna but also Amy. Then he gives away the money for his daughter's health. It all adds up to a lot of wrong motivations. The twist is both obvious and unearned. Aniston keeps the movie compelling and Vincent Cassel is a good cartoon villain. However it is simply too manipulative and too many things go wrong. Although the bar bet is pretty smooth.
Lidda (Kirsten Dunst) leaves Tulsa, Oklahoma and her mother to find her
father Charlie Doyles (James Caan), a professional gambler in Vegas.
She carries around a check from him. She takes store clerk Colonel
(Vincent Kartheiser) along for the ride when somebody comes collecting
his debt. Colonel considers himself to be a poker player. Charlie faces
old nemesis Tony in high stakes poker. Charlie is in love with stripper
Sugar working in Tony's club. Jimmy works for Tony to rob and then kill
gamblers. Tony's nephew Frankie arrives from Italy to be the new member
of the crew.
This movie is very clunky. Nobody is particularly compelling. Kirsten is grumpy and Vincent is no leading man. They don't have any chemistry. James Caan is coasting on his reputation in this movie. Luis Guzmán is a passable hit-man but he's capable of much more. This is trying to be a hard-boiled crime drama and personal drama. It doesn't have the style or any good writing. It doesn't have any thrills or tension. It stumbles on and on as the audience waits for Lidda to finally meet up with Charlie.
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a drunk broke country singer whose best
days are in the past. Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a journalist
doing an in-depth piece on the old legend. They open up to each other
and start a relationship. He tries to get his life together. He talks
to star Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) who was once his mentors. Everybody
wants him to write new songs but he hasn't written anything in three
This movie is simply living off of Jeff Bridges' natural performance. He is absolutely perfect for this role. He is touching and compelling. Gyllenhaal is good. Colin Farrell surprises with a great cameo. Their scene together is so wonderful. The story is rather thin and moves at a leisurely pace. There is a lot of country music. It's an easy comforting journey.
Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) are best friends and
roommates. They are 30, struggling in L.A. and on the verge of going
back to Ohio. Ryan is the former star quarterback who never made it to
the pros. Justin wants to be a video game designer but can't sell his
Patrolman game. They dress up as cops for their college reunion. Then
Ryan has an idea to "Let's be cops". They challenge gangsters endearing
themselves with the locals like Josie (Nina Dobrev). They are
befriended by beat cop Segars (Rob Riggle).
It's odd that Jake Johnson is the former star quarterback. Damon might be able to pass for it. I do like the duo and their crazy stupid bromance. They are hilarious in those little scenes together. Stripping in club is funny. The problem is that they put the guys in a serious crime drama. That's not funny. This isn't 'Beverly Hills Cop'. The comedy is much broader so it can't do anything serious. It's a lot of silly idiocy. The point is that they really shouldn't be cops.
Merchant sailor Alex Walker (Kevin Anderson) is stranded in Mexico
after missing his ship's departure. His wallet is stolen and the man
who stole it is killed by somebody. The cops are after him for the
murder. He joins up with Phillip Mills (John Lithgow) and his trophy
wife Missy (Rosanna Arquette).
Kevin Anderson is a weak actor and his character isn't particularly interesting either. Arquette is broadly sexual. She even sleeps sucking her thumb. She has some fun camping it up. However Anderson is the black hole of charisma. Lithgow is possessive and jealous. The production is not high quality. If they could get a charismatic leading man, this could be an interesting trio.
It's 1954 Austin, Texas. Nadine Hightower (Kim Basinger) tries to get
her 'art studies' back from Escobar who claimed to know Hugh Hefner. He
is killed by an unknown assailant and she gets away with what she
assumed to be her photos. Instead, the folder contains highly valuable
plans of a proposed new road. Her husband Vernon (Jeff Bridges) wants
her to sign the divorce papers but she wants his Buick. He owns the
useless bar Blue Bonnet and going out with Renée Lomax (Glenne Headly).
Both the cops and the bad guy Buford Pope (Rip Torn) are after her. She
tricks Vernon to join her as she tries to recover her lost photos. He
steals the plans and tries to get money for it.
Jeff Bridges is kind of annoying. It's really his character. Even as a hostage, he's completely brash and arrogant. That rubbed me the wrong way. Their renewed romance is abrupt and forced. Their combo isn't funny and I'm not sure they tried particular hard to be funny. It may help if he doesn't have another woman waiting around. Glenne Headly is as annoying as hell and Kim Basinger screams way too much. It's not even screwball enough to be fun. They keep getting caught by the bad guys but it's like a Bond movie.
Dr. Sam Rice (Roy Scheider) is a Manhattan psychiatrist like his mother
Grace (Jessica Tandy). He's recently divorced. One of his patients
George Bynum has been killed. He is visited by the mysterious Brooke
Reynolds (Meryl Streep) who worked with Bynum at the auction house
Crispin's. She's also Bynum's mistress. They are interrupted by
Detective Vitucci and she accidentally leaves behind a watch. Dr. Rice
examines his files on Bynum and suspicions falls on Reynolds.
I really like the Hitchcockian touches. I love the laundry room when the lights go out in the hallway. I did not like all the flashback re-examination of his files. The plot loses its way a bit and some of its tension. Meryl Streep is pretty good as the mysterious damsel-in-distress. Although she's not the classic sex bombshell. Scheider is still a good leading man. This could be a much better mystery thriller.
Ira Wells (Art Carney) is a broke aging private detective in L.A. His
friend Harry Regan shows up at his door mortally wounded. Charlie
Hatter introduces him to quirky Margo Sperling (Lily Tomlin) who is
looking for her stolen cat. Harry was working for Margo before his
demise. Ira decides to take on the case and track down Harry's killer.
It's a lot of twists and turns with a good amount of danger.
This is a weird hybrid of a movie. It's a little wacky due a lot to Lily Tomlin and her character but it's not exactly a comedy. It has roots in the hard-boiled detective stories. The movie keeps twisting and turning. It is a long winding road to follow. The plot gets a bit confused. It is definitely something different and unique.
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