5.7/10
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The Gingerbread Man (1998)

A lawyer uses his power to help his lover put her father behind bars, but when he escapes, they are all in danger.

Director:

Robert Altman

Writers:

John Grisham (story), Clyde Hayes (screenplay) (as Al Hayes)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kenneth Branagh ... Rick Magruder
Embeth Davidtz ... Mallory Doss
Robert Downey Jr. ... Clyde Pell
Daryl Hannah ... Lois Harlan
Robert Duvall ... Dixon Doss
Tom Berenger ... Pete Randle
Famke Janssen ... Leeanne Magruder
Clyde Hayes Clyde Hayes ... Carl Alden
Mae Whitman ... Libby Magruder
Jesse James ... Jeff Magruder
Troy Byer ... Konnie Dugan (as Troy Beyer)
Julia Ryder Perce Julia Ryder Perce ... Cassandra (as Julia R. Perce)
Danny Darst Danny Darst ... Sheriff Hope
Sonny Seiler Sonny Seiler ... Phillip Dunson
Walter Hartridge Walter Hartridge ... Edmund Hess
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Storyline

Lawyer Rick Magruder has a one-night-stand affair with caterer Mallory Doss. He becomes hooked on her, and when he learns her nut-case father Dixon is threatening her, he puts the weight of his law firm behind Mallory, has Dixon arrested and subpoenas her ex-husband Pete to testify against Dixon in court. Dixon is sent to an asylum, but escapes from there and the lives of many people are in danger. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 January 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gingerbread Man See more »

Filming Locations:

Guyton, Georgia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$118,278, 25 January 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,534,569, 21 June 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Before Robert Altman and Embeth Davidtz came on to direct and play the female lead in the movie, respectively, John Dahl and Annette Bening were due to take on these roles. See more »

Goofs

At the party early in the movie, Rick and Lois are talking head-to-head on the sofa. Mallory walks behind them and you can hear Lois talking, but we see their heads at opposite ends of the sofa and they aren't talking. The camera immediately cuts back to them sitting close and talking like before. See more »

Quotes

Clyde Pell: No offense ma'am, but it's always appeared to me your Dad's a few beers shy of a six-pack.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Who Is Alan Smithee? (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Altman's strong suit usually isn't plot, and this shows why
1 October 2008 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Robert Altman shouldn't make a movie like this, but the fact that he did- and that it turns out to be a reasonably good and tightly-wound thriller in that paperback-tradition of Grisham thrillers- shows a versatility that is commendable. In the Gingerbread Man he actually has to work with something that, unfortunately, he isn't always very successful at, or at least it's not the first thing on his checklist as director: plot. There's one of those big, juicy almost pot-boiler plots where a sleazy lawyer gets caught up with a desperate low-class woman and then a nefarious figure whom the woman is related with enters their lives in the most staggering ways, twists and plot ensues, yada yada. And it's surprising that Altman would really want to take on one of these "I saw that coming from back there!" endings, or just a such a semi-conventional thriller.

But it's a surprise that pays off because, oddly enough, Altman is able to catch some of that very fine behavior, or rather is able to unintentionally coax it out of a very well-cast ensemble, of a small-town Georgian environment. The film drips with atmosphere (if not total superlative craftsmanship, sometimes it's good and sometimes just decent for Altman), as Savannah is possibly going to be hit by a big hurricane and the swamp and marshes and rain keep things soaked and muggy and humid. So the atmosphere is really potent, but so are performances from (sometimes) hysterical Kenneth Branaugh, Embeth Davitz as the 'woman' who lawyer Branaugh gets caught up with, and Robert Downey Jr (when is he *not* good?) as the private detective in Branaugh's employ. Did I neglect Robert Duvall, who in just five minutes of screen time makes such an indelible impression to hang the bad-vibes of the picture on?

As said, some of the plot is a little weak, or just kind of standard (lawyer is divorced, bitter custody battle looms, innocent and goofy kids), but at the same time I think Altman saw something captivating in the material, something darker than some of the other Grisham works that has this standing out somehow. If it's not entirely masterful, it still works on its limited terms as a what-will-happen-next mystery-Southern-noir.


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