Gun Shy (2000)
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Erik Blakeney has written and directed a film that should have been seen by a wider audience, yet, this movie came and went without fanfare. It deserved a better fate because of the funny screen play Mr. Blakeney created and the wonderful cast that was gathered for the picture. The problem seems to have been in the marketing. This is clearly not a Sandra Bullock vehicle at all!
Liam Neeson and Oliver Platt are about the best thing going for the movie. Liam Neeson's Charlie is one of the funniest roles he has done in his career. Mr. Neeson tends to gravitate toward more dramatic fare, but as Charlie, he proves he is an accomplished comedian. The same goes for Oliver Platt who plays a bad guy interested in domestic activities such as cleaning a messy kitchen, or even thinking about a life in Italy growing tomatoes.
The minor roles are equally good. Jose Zuniga and Micahel DeLorenzo are hilarious as a pair of gay drug dealers. Sandra Bullock doesn't get as many opportunities in the movie, but she is seen in the pivotal role of Judy. The group therapy sessions involving Charlie and other law enforcing people are fun to watch.
Erik Blakeney shows he can do good work if only he could have the right studio people behind him.
charlie and fulvio's developing fiendship shows insight to the harshness of choosing a dangerous perfession and being born into it. either way you look at it, they are just two guys that hate their jobs just like the guys in the group sessions. wheather your a cop, thug, banker, lawyer, or stockbroker; life gets to a point where it all blends into an unfulfilling mess and you feel as if your drowning.
i noticed a lot of negitive reviews and am surprised at that. (like the gay thing-no one in this film is what they seem - get it?) maybe this is too complicated of a movie for everyone to enjoy. maybe hollywood has been putting out too much mission impossible eye candy that thinking about a movie and an underlying concept just shouldn't be expected anymore. this is a funny, sweet, real film. give it a chance.
'Charlie' Mayeaux (Liam Neeson) is a bummed out DEA agent fresh from a bungled case yet given an important assignment to break a Columbian drug cartel represented by Fidel (José Zúñiga) and his boyfriend Estuvio (Michael DeLorenzo). Also caught up in this mélange is the Mafia represented, however reluctantly, by Fulvio Nestra (Oliver Platt), a nerdy but vicious bungler whose temper is uncontrollable, partly due to his insipid belittling wife Gloria (Mary McCormack) whose father demands Fulvio's crime life importance. Charlie is a mess, meets a psychologist who introduces him to group therapy (where Charlie idiotically relates all the DEA secrets openly) and to gastroenterology where nurse Judy (Sandra Bullock) administers a barium enema then other more herbal-sided treatments while she and Charlie become bonded. People are maimed (gunshot castration), killed, made to look foolish, all to the end of supposedly belly laughs on the part of the audience.
True, Neeson shows a flair for comedy and Platt manages to convey a breakthrough role for him, but the rest is a jumbled mess. Made in 2000 with the Twin Towers of New York frequently visible during talk against Arabs and the Middle East, it is easy to see why the timing of this 'yet another Mafia vs law' film contributed to its short theater run (how many have even heard of it?). But in the final analysis it probably failed on its own merits - sad for a film filled to the brim with very fine actors. Grady Harp
So if you want a movie that is a little different. And maybe even a bit unusual, go to your local video store and rent Gun Shy.
Sandra Bullock plays the one imensional, wacky, unconventional sex kitten. The only interesting scenes are the opening ones, some of which reminded me of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. One positive thing: the music is good, especially the inclusion of Tom Waits music.
Bottom line: Don't bother.
We nearly turned this one off after the first 30 minutes. We commented that it was no wonder we'd never heard of it before. I was personally worried this would be another Bullock movie like Hangmen, a TRULY horrific flick, but that's another story.
At the beginning the plot was all over the place. But the acting was good and soon after this we both started liking the characters. By the end we were both happy we stuck it out. The movie isn't about the guns and violence. Very nice for a change.
This movie could help folks get a little perspective on their lives.
I found that Neeson struck a terrific balance between presenting the steely, fearless undercover persona and the shell-shocked cop underneath. The contrast is played up well, especially in the first scene at the psychiatrist's and the scenes where Charlie is caught between Fulvio and the Colombians.
Oliver Platt is utterly hilarious as a sadistic leg-breaker with a heart of gold, and his portrayal steals the show. I thought his portrayal of Fulvio had a great deal more realism and sympathy to him than DeNiro's Paul Viti. Platt's "Life could be sweet" speech is far more convincing than DeNiro's comical bawling.
Finally, the editor did a terrific job, playing up Charlie's crumbling facade of fearlessness, constructing Fulvio's introduction as simultaneously menacing and absurd, and using an odd kind of show-and-tell technique in the bar scene towards the end.
One little point I enjoyed was Charlie's discussion of the undercover lifestyle, which reminded me of how the movie Rounders offered an insider's angle on the psychology and tricks involved in gambling. A minor element, but it contributed greatly to my enjoyment of both films.
All that said, there are some things I could have lived without. Take out the gastrointestinal problems (and the throwaway romantic subplot it leads into), and you would have a much improved film. The essential concept *is* heavily reminiscent of the three aforementioned flicks, and it could have used a bit more focus. As it is, it tries hard to work in several comedic and dramatic angles, but only a few come off smoothly. I would recommend it as a light diversion to watch with friends, as even a cursory analysis draws unwelcome comparisons to its more successful predecessors. I went in with middling expectations and had a blast the first rental. Surprisingly enough, I watched Gun Shy again with friends after watching Analyze This, and I still enjoyed it. Give it a spin.
This movie isn't supposed to be a typical action comedy. This movie is a lesson in taking control of your life and realizing that everyone else is at least as unhappy as you are, that also happens to be pretty funny.
I think my favorite character is easily Fulvio. Fulvio will kill someone just for looking at him the wrong way, but all he really wants to do is grow tomatoes like his grandfather. He's about to cut the neighbor's hand off stealing his newspaper, but all he does when he comes home from a bad day is clean the kitchen.
Personally, I think the movie is well done. If you don't like it the first time, try it again, you might catch something that you missed previously.
There are three elements that really caught my attention while watching this film, and I must begin with the acting. You had in this film some of Hollywood's most dramatic, comedic, and talented people doing their best work in this little film called Gun Shy. Liam Neeson represented his character so well, that I nearly forgot most of the time that he was Neeson from Schindler's List, but instead this neurotic agent with problems around every bend. The twitching of his hands, the ability to bring life to his words and his comedic timing was brilliant. He really was a shining light in this film. This rubbed off onto the others in this film causing greatness from everyone. Oliver Platt was hysterical playing off of every Italian stereotype that can be seen in such hits as The Sopranos and The Godfather, but he does it with so much originality and creativity that it feels and smells fresh. I found myself laughing at everything Platt did, and he played so well against Neeson that I am surprised that the two haven't made more films together. Then there was Sandra. While this wasn't the mightiest role for her, she was enjoyable to watch. She didn't overdo it, nor was she lacking. She was the only average character in the film, and I blame this in part to only having a few short scenes in the film (kinda underdeveloped). The rest of the cast was well above par. What was interesting about the characters and actors of Gun Shy is that I wanted to watch them. They, unlike some recent Hollywood blockbusters, brought life into the film and they had "fun" (a Hollywood curse word) with this production. You could tell, and it provided some enjoyable cinema.
The next element was the story. Director/writer Eric Blakeney did a great job of complementing the actors with a simple script. This may sound like an insult, but so many times we watch films that have this overdeveloped story that causes are actors to get lost, our audience to get lost, and ultimately our film to get lost. By keeping the story simple, Blakeney was able to bring the best from the actors. I do believe that the script complimented the actors and pushed them to explore new possibilities of characters. It was a story that we had seen time and time again, but again, like the acting, it seemed original and fresh because it was simple and complete. My only gripes about the story is that it could have developed Bullock's character a bit more and sharpened the ending a bit, but that is all. Honestly, I thought the film worked the way the script was written, no changes were needed, but healthy constructive feedback is always welcomed.
Finally, I would like to say that I loved the theme of this film. Perhaps it is where I am in my life that allowed it to hit me so hard, but for me it was sheer bliss. Here you have a story, which all the central characters hate, loathe, and dislike their lives. From Charlie's hatred and fear of getting killed by his job, to Fulvio's passion for a better life, to the Colombian's wanting to escape in love together, to even all of Charlie's friends in his group therapy that hate their lives as well, there is just this overwhelming sense of dislike for the world when this film begins. As we grow with our characters, they begin to see the brighter side of life and that we all need that moment of change to help us grow and develop ourselves. I thought this was a great theme to bring into a zany mob comedy, but it worked. So many times in Hollywood we see the happy family man who gets caught up in the mob mess, but never have we seen so many disillusioned people gathered in one film and still make it a comedy. It was very close to perfection.
Overall, I enjoyed this film. I will say it again, it wasn't the best I have ever seen, but it did provide two hours of entertainment and sometimes that is all you can ask of a film (though lately it is becoming harder and harder). The acting is what pulled me into the picture, and the depressing beginning theme kept me glued to the screen. I surprise myself sometimes because this was not a "crazy film". It was a generic story that allowed the actors and the director to be original and creative. You don't see that much anymore, and it was sheer bliss to finally witness it in the film Gun Shy.
Grade: **** out of *****
This film attempts to be a cross between Donnie Brasco' and Analyze This' and is a poor imitation on both counts. The comedy was sophomoric slapstick and just didn't fit well with the police story. At times I wasn't sure whether Blakeney intended this to be a lampoon of cop movies or a comedy cop caper. It doesn't really matter. It didn't work either way.
It was incongruous to see actors like Liam Neeson and Sandra Bullock in a film with such a low budget look and such poor direction. The dialogue was eyerolling bad. Blakeney tried to be clever, but just succeeded in making a fool of everyone, especially himself for writing this tripe.
Liam Neeson was miscast in this role. He is a great dramatic actor, but a comedian he will never be. Sandra Bullock didn't really have much to do here other than bring another name to the marquee. Oliver Platt was the closest thing to providing saving grace to this film as he was consistently funny.
Eric Blakeney and Hollywood Pictures should be tried and convicted for actor and audience abuse with this film. I rated it a 3/10. Even Neeson and Bullock fans will want to miss this one.
Liam Neeson may not be known for his comic flair in spite of his wide dramatic range in serious films but here he displays a low underwhelming charm that has a distinct world-weary sarcasm that helps make his nearly burnt out federal undercover agent Charlie a somewhat put-upon likable good guy.
Charlie is on the verge of some kind of nervous breakdown ever since a botched assignment nearly got him killed and an aversion to watermelon (he was forced in a compromising position a la a roasted pig during the melee), that unless he can pull himself together the next job may send him over the edge.
That's why while en route to his debriefing for a small-time made man in New York he makes small talk on the plane with a man who turns out to be a therapist and before he knows it is on the couch and later in group therapy with a quartet of stressed businessmen who seem to all share a common thread: fear of repercussions and termination.
Charlie is so bent out of shape in his recovery from his life-threatening incident and the upcoming ploy to oust the violent tempered Fulvio Nesstra (Platt, one of our best comic actors playing it to the hilt a la Paul Sorvino) that the therapist recommend him to a gastrointestinal clinic where in arguably the oddest meet-cute in film history is ministered by the sunny Judy Tipp (wholesomely sexy Bullock, who also produced the comedy) and wind up falling in love with her post-enema treatment (!) What makes the film its own is its blend of the out-of-sort comic elements of Charlie's high stressed work and the group therapy's oddball patients , especially Richard Schiff (best know as the human wishbone in 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park' and currently on tv's dramedy 'The West Wing') who is so beyond frazzled at his workplace he has to resort to some bizarre tactics to avoid blurting out a Tourette's Syndromelike spurt of vitriol (at least until the film needs it as a closure).
Maybe because of the unusual hybrid of comedy a la 'Analyze This' with the broad character of Platt's Fulvio and the somewhat sardonic tone of Neeson's Charlie does it mesh often on the mark. Yet the film suffers from trying to balance too much on its scales to begin with but comes across as a game effort with a fine ensemble and clever screenplay by new filmmaker Eric Blakeney.
Give it an A for effort in attempting to make an original spin on a chestnut like the screwball comedy and fish out-of-water genre.
I think one key reviewer's initial review may set the stage for the rest. It is said that one weekend the NYTimes book reviewer forgot to read "By Love Possessed," by James Cousins (sp?), so the last minute he grabbed a trade journal and just paraphrased it. The trade journal was very favorable, and, following the Times lead, the book became a best-seller and Book-of-the-Month selection and the author became famous. Yet most of the reviewers had never read it!
Did this happen with Gun Shy? The scene at the urinal is an all time comic high. The only urinal scene as funny was the one at the start of "Buffalo 66." Sorry for those that saw it once AT MOST and failed to see its great humor, casting, writing, acting. I've almost lost trace of how many times I've watched the DVD. "We dethign clotheth!"
Of course Oliver Platt steals every scene he is in.