Volume 1, Number 2
This Week's Reviews: Baby Geniuses, The Rage: Carrie II, The Corruptor, EDtv, Wing Commander, The Deep End of the Ocean.
(Dir: Bob Clark, Starring Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd, Kim Cattrall, Peter MacNicol, Ruby Dee, and Dom DeLuise)
BY: DAVID PERRY
And I thought Jack was bad. In what is the second worst film I've seen so far this year, Baby Geniuses shows just how easy it is to become a film director these days. Of course heaven forbid I say anything against director Clark, he was the genius behind Porky's 1 and 2.
I'll admit that I was one of the many that were enthralled by the talking animals of Babe and its sequel but these talking babies scared me more than they enchanted me. I think that when Miko Hughes is credited as the voice of the main child, it is time to give up on the film. The saddest thing is that this was produced by Oscar winning actor Jon Voight. I bought a copy of Deliverance this weekend just so that I could remember Voight back when he was respectable. Also, is this the official end of the careers of Christopher Lloyd and Kathleen Turner, the last time I saw each of them were in My Favorite Martian and A Simple Wish, respectively. Even the somewhat refreshing Peter MacNicol lacks anything to talk about in this. I enjoy his often unusual hijinx on the TV series Ally McBeal, but he seemed just as out of place in this as he did in hid first film Dragonslayer.
If you have yet to be convinced not to see it, I'm sure the plot shall do it. Baby Geniuses follows two twin brothers that were separated at birth because they are geniuses and their evil aunt (Turner) and her accomplice (Lloyd) want to test the intellectual brain of one of the brothers and a group of other babies. They get switched around and now the one that is on the outside must get in and save his brother from being sent to Lithuania or somewhere like that. According to this film, the babies are so smart that they talk in their own archaic language and have carried the knowledge of their parents until the time that they start talking.
To close this, I'm going to paraphrase what
Leonard Maltin said about Hamburger: The Movie: "If you decide to see this,
you get what you deserve."
|The Rage: Carrie II
(Dir: Katt Shea, Starring Emily Bergl, Amy Irving, Jason London, Dylan Bruno, J. Smith-Cameron, Rachel Blanchard, and Zachery Ty Bryan)
BY: DAVID PERRY
In one of those moves in which you can't help but ask why, MGM decided to try out a sequel to Brian DePalma's horror classic Carrie. This is not really a sequel but more of a rehash, somewhat like comparing 1969's Romeo and Juliet to 1996's Romeo + Juliet. I'll be first to admit that the film has some good ideas hidden in its script that do not come out until the end, but all in all Carrie II is just further proof that Amy Irving is struggling for work. I actually found it fun to think that original Carrie Sissy Spacek has gone on to other more happy characters like hers in the underrated Blast from the Past, while Irving is stuck doing the sequel.
The story follows the wallflower Rachel (Bergl) who has fallen for one of the popular football players (London). The only thing is that she does not know that he and his friends are the reason for the recent suicide of her best friend. Here is the twist, Bergl has some connection to Carrie that I shall not give away, though if you couldn't figure that out from the trailer, this might be your type of film.
The film follows the exact formula that the
original did just without the zeal of DePalma. The saddest thing I can say about the film
is that the best parts of it are the flash backs to the original.
(Dir: James Foley, Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Mark Wahlberg, Ric Young, Jon Kit Lee, Elizabeth Lindsey, Bryon Mann, Andrew Pang, and Brian Cox)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Is this the final draw between me and James Foley? To this day, he and Francis Ford Coppola are the quintessential beginners' luck directors. For heaven's sake, his 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross was my favorite film of the year and that was the year of Unforgiven, Reservoir Dogs, and The Crying Game. Sure he had a tough beginning with 1987's Madonna/Griffen Dunne vehicle Who's That Girl, but does that really account for the dismal Fear (also starring Wahlberg) and the even worse The Chamber (still the worst John Grisham adaptation yet).
And on a tangent, where is Yun-Fat going? I was one of those critics that gave a recommendation to his American debut in The Replacement Killers and many of his Chinese action films, but I'm going to have to say that even he was awful in this. Mark Wahlberg was delightful in Boogie Nights from two years ago, but I knew where he was letting his career go after seeing The Big Hit last year (how could John Woo executive produce that?).
The real thing that made The Corruptor look bad was that it came off as a dramatic version of Lethal Weapon 4. That was not helped by the fact that the same actor plays a character named Uncle Benny in both. The thumb tilts even further down as the film gets into its second hour in which it goes into a lackluster action sequence and even more so finale.
All in all the only thing I can say that is good for The
Corruptor is the performance of Brian Cox. If the name is not familiar, you probably
haven't seen Rushmore, a much much better film.
(Dir: Ron Howard, Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Harrelson, Martin Landau, Sally Kirkland, Rob Reiner, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Hurley, Clint Howard, and Adam Goldberg)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I once heard this film called "the poor-man's The Truman Show" and to tell the truth I can't find any way to discredit that blurb. First of all, I'm not a fan of Imagine Entertainment (the company owned by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard) and I have yet to forgive them for remaking Psycho last year and making The Chamber (see above). So it could be said that I had low expectations for this film when walking in. And guess what, it was just what I expected. In a kind of October Sky/Patch Adams way, EDtv seems like a crowd pleaser despite the lack of any new material in it and a following of Hollywood comedy formula (for more on formulas see below).
See if the premise sounds slightly familiar. Ed is just a normal guy, normal that is except for the fact that his entire life is shown on television. The difference between this and The Truman Show is that Ed is fully aware that he is being filmed, in fact he signed a contract. We get to watch himself and his family cope with their new found fame.
The only thing that brought the rating higher than the rest of the week's releases is that it has a respectable cast. While DeGeneres, McConaughey, and Elfman are thoroughly uninteresting in the film, heavyweights like Kirkland, Landau, and even Harrelson make the film watchable at times. Also its cameos are quite enjoyable (Michael Moore, Bill Maher).
One of the films biggest problems is the
uninteresting people that it tries to make us think about while they are watching the
show, ranging from a middle-class African American family to a Manhattan gay couple. Also
the direction from directorial-slacker Howard seems pushed as I couldn't have cared less
about hearing about his brother's hair plugs and Reiner's, well, problem. I think that
there is something wrong with a film when the biggest laugh in the entire film is how
Martin Landau pronounces "a gymnasium."
(Dir: Chris Roberts, Starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Saffron Burrows, Jürgen Prochnow, Tchéky Karyo, David Warner, David Suchet, and Ginny Holder)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Wing Commander is based on a computer game that I am now proud to say I never played, and that basis shows. The film goes to just as much trouble about having a plot as Pong did. What's worse yet is that it is directed and co-written by the guy that invented the game, so he should at least know the material.
Idiot of the moment Freddie Prinze Jr. sets out on some intergalactic fighting as a wing commander that must save his force from evil aliens that look remarkably like cats. Along the way is this tough higher-ranked female (do I see formula coming) that does not hit it off with him from the start. Also he has some friend (Lillard) that is just there for some really unfunny comic relief. There is some sub-plot between Lillard and his new found love (Holder). And then there is some fighting. And then, thank heavens, there is the end.
What hurts the most about Wing Commander is that some big names are in it. David Suchet plays co-something-or-another on the main vessel and this is the guy who plays Hercule Poirot for Masterpiece Theatre. Jürgen Prochnow is the other half of that co-something-or-another and his last film was Best Picture Winner The English Patient, not to mention the star of the unbelievable 1982 German film Das Boot. But the one that seems most out of place is David Warner. When he is on screen, it looks like he is just reading off the lines to get money for his next London stageplay.
The film is bad, really bad, but still a step up
from the tepid Super Mario Bros.
|The Deep End of the Ocean
(Dir: Ulu Grosbard, Starring Michelle Pfieffer, Treat Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Jackson, Ryan Merriman, and John Kapelos)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Ending off this weekend of really bad films is The Deep End of the Ocean. I think the funniest thing about this film is that it is from Mandelay Entertainment whose previous films include Wild Things, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Fan. Mandelay has never tried to make a drama and it shows. From the beginning the film is riddled with predictability. The only part that is not predictable is this hilarious twist that left your humble narrator rolling in the aisles with laughter. You know something is wrong when the most enjoyable part of the entire film is a musical sequence in which you decide to stand up and dance for the rest of the bored audience (that little bit of fun almost got me thrown out of the theatre by the projectionist, but he could not find who the loud people were).
The Deep End of the Ocean is yet another made-for-TV caliber script brought to the big screen only because it grabs the support of a big name. In this case the culprit is Michelle Pfieffer, who admittedly gives a good performance but far from her best. The rest of the cast include Treat Williams, who lost all respect from critics with The Phantom and The Substitute II: School's Out, Whoopi "is this really the best person to host the Oscars" Goldberg, and Jonathan Jackson whose previous material includes...General Hospital!
It is the story of a family that must cope with the abduction of their son. Nine years later, by chance, they move just down the street from where he now lives (egad, what drama). Around here is that twist that you just can't help but laugh at. This held so tight to Hollywood formula that I was expecting statistics ("8 out of every 11 children kidnapped live a mile from their old family") to finish off the film. Before heading to the theatre, I happened to be watching E! News Weekend in which Pfieffer was giving away the ending to all those that wanted to know (don't worry, in respect to the film I muted it and saw it freshly).
Even director Ulu Grosbard falters. His two DeNiro films in the eighties (True Confessions and Falling in Love) remind me that Grosbard can direct, this just was not his type of work. I mean Grosbard worked under director Sidney Lumet in The Pawnbroker in 1965, you would think some of Lumet's artistry would have rubbed off on Grosbard.
The film has more plot holes than Armageddon and
more inconsistencies than a literal Pulp Fiction. If that merits a
recommendation, which I'm sure some rabid viewers will do, then Baby Geniuses
might as well get a recommendation.