Volume 1, Number 21
(Dir: David Kellogg, Starring Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher, Andy Dick, Michael G. Hagerty, Michelle Trachtenberg, Dabney Coleman, and Cheri Oteri)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I was one of many in my generation that watched and enjoyed Inspector Gadget. The hilarity of hearing Don Adams voice alone made it worth watching on a daily basis. I'd actually say that when I was eight or so, I had probably seen every episode of the show. But that was the eighties and now I'm much more cynical (let's face it, I loved Happiness and Election) with much less openness to something as carefree as a modern day Inspector Gadget. It's still enjoyable to see episodes now and then because they retain the same neverending satisfaction of being a memory of cartoon watching, much like Scooby Doo. The thing is that it works because it is in a seal that beckons 1980s, much more enticing than seeing the same stuff brought out in the 1990s. Would The Breakfast Club work near as well today? How about Pretty in Pink (oh yeah, She's All That, bad example)? That is just as much reasoning in my dislike for the new Inspector Gadget as the fact that it has a terrible script.
Inspector Gadget still serves as the story of a gadget filled crime avenger, but this film takes on new things and ideas to make it seem more accessible to the new audiences. Evidently 1999's children can take the idea of a scene in a hospital surgery room where hose and springs are placed in the body of a comatose man. Sure it is all in fun, but isn't that a little morbid? The new Inspector Gadget (Broderick) is given a back story as a security guard that is blown up while chasing the killer of a scientist on his patrol. The thing that I believe most disturbed me and many others is that the face of arch nemesis Dr. Claw (Everett) is very visible to the viewing audience. Even Chief Quimby (Coleman) does not blow up after trying to get away from a self destructing message!
After crushing his hand leaving him with a claw and attempting to fall in love with a very important pawn in his scientific excursion, Claw (dropping the Dr.) sets out to tarnish the name and character of Inspector Gadget by making an evil look alike. Meanwhile accomplices Sikes (Hagerty) and scientist (Dick; character has no real name) attempt to make a life-like and workable prosthetic leg that works via brain signals. This leg is important to Brenda (Fisher), who made Inspector Gadget after the leg was stolen from her scientist father.
At times painful to watch, Inspector Gadget
is rarely, if ever, funny despite the oft tries by Broderick (and I thought that Election
was his freedom from a long string of bad films) and Everett (and I thought he was back to
a good string of films after An Ideal Husband). Initially this film was destined
for a D/* rating, but a little notch up came thanks to a very enjoyable end credits
sequence. Actually they were not really that funny with the exceptions of a support group
for evil henchmen (Richard Kiel is just terrific) and a vocal cameo of a certain actor I
hold in high esteem.
(Dir: Jan de Bont, Starring Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Marian Seldes, and Bruce Dern)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Yet another loss for Jan de Bont. After making a great directorial debut with Speed in 1994, he has continually shown that Speed was just a fluke. In 1996 he made Twister, which did have some very nice visuals, but was brought down by a hideous script, followed by Speed 2: Cruise Control which was just completely hideous. Now he brings out a new take on the classic novel The Haunting of Hill House. Made into a thrilling and truly scary 1963 film by Robert Wise, this version of The Haunting lacks any of the scare factor that made the original so stunning. When there was a bump in the night in the original that was frightening thanks to its ambiguity, this film will take a humongous CGI concoction to make that bump scarier. Not once was I actually scared during this film.
Instead of the grouping of people that were there to prove the existence of the supernatural in 1963, the characters in this version are under the belief that their stay at the mysterious and creepy mansion is to do a test on insomnia, though their guide (Neeson) actually has them there to do a test on the fear produced by the human psyche. There are six set to stay at the mansion: Dr. Morrow (Neeson), there to make a test on fear, Carrie Fredericks (Madsen), Morrow's assistant, Todd Fredericks (Field), Carrie's husband, Theo (Zeta-Jones), a lesbian who lives luxuriously, Luke (Wilson), an everyday man chosen by his openness on secrets (a toy that Morrow needs to make the test work), and Eleanor (Taylor), a nervous woman getting over the recent death of the mother she had taken care of for years.
I must admit that there were some great visuals in
the film, as de Bant works some direction well, though the CGI graphics got old quickly.
The real star of the film is its art direction. The set of the house is unbelievable and
almost makes the film worth seeing just to gawk at it. Even though Wilson and Taylor give
flat performances, Neeson and Zeta-Jones seem to work. Still the film has some of the
worst dialogue of the year (climaxing in easily the worst monologue I've seen in years).
There is nothing really scary about the film and the writing is rather shabby. As the most
expensive episode of Scooby Doo ever, The Haunting serves as merely
something to make fun of.
|Drop Dead Gorgeous
(Dir: Michael Patrick Jann, Starring Kristen Dunst, Denise Richards, Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Brittany Murphy, Michael McShane, Mindy Sterling, Shannon Nelson, and William Sasso)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I must admit that I was expecting very little from this mockumentary. The trailers for it left it looking terribly unappealing and the cast were of those who have made many mistakes in their careers recently. So saying that Drop Dead Gorgeous simply suprised me would be an understatement. Often hilarious, the film delivers some of the biggest laughs since Election.
The film is the fake documentary on a beauty pageant in a small town that causes all kinds of havoc ranging from the large war between contestants to the multitude of problems found in the judges. The main two contestants are Rebecca (Richards) and Amber (Dunst). Rebecca seems to be the front runner thanks to the fact that the pageant is being run by her mother and previous winner Gladys (Alley), though easily the most hated by those that know her. Amber is the opposite as she is likable and has more aspirations than Rebecca: she yearns to become a Diane Sawyer for her generation.
The film is full of off-beat characters ranging
from Amber's bar-can handed mother (Barkin) to the peppy girl who sees herself unable to
meet the expectations of her parents after her brother goes on Broadway (Murphy) to the
highly devout and straight laced assistant of Alley's (Sterling). All of the performances
seem to work with the exception of Kirstie Alley (though all the accents seem quite off).
I even found Barkin somewhat enjoyable in this (that is quite an achievement). The film is
very mean spirited and very macabre at times. The fact that it has a song and dance number
involving a anorexic ex-queen being wheeled around in a wheelchair by a nurse and
lip-synching to a song should say just how far this film will go (that scene is easily the
funniest in the film). The humor is biting and very politically incorrect posing Lutherans
as gun freaks and women as stereotypes (the fact that it is written by a woman quite
suprised me). I must admit that the type of humor here was in the vain of, say, Election
and Rushmore with a bit of There's Something About Mary and will
probably offend most of the country (though it seems that South Park failed to
offend anyone beyond Winona Rider, so who knows?). As cruel and mean and just plain evil
as Drop Dead Gorgeous was, I still liked it and actually intend on seeing it
|The Thomas Crown Affair
(Dir: John McTiernan, Starring Rene Russo, Pierce Brosnan, Denis Leary, Esther Canadas, and Frankie Faison)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I must be one of the biggest fans of the Norman Jewison film The Thomas Crown Affair from 1968. With its suave stars (Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway) and its terrific look (thanks to Jewison's direction and the cinematography of the great Haskell Wexler) the original The Thomas Crown Affair is a salute to experimental filmmaking in the 1960s. Now 31 years later I am forced through a remake that would have been better titled James Bond Gone Bad than The Thomas Crown Affair. Very little of the original still remains in this supposed remake. The only things that cause a similarity between the two: the main character is a wealthy trader named Thomas Crown, a robbery causes the interest of an insurance investigator that falls for Mr. Crown, and a fly in a plane over fields. The differences are much bigger and more important like the fact that the bank robbery in the original is now the stealing of a painting. Even the two main supporting (oxymoron?) characters have different names. Then of course there is the fact that the two have completely different and opposing endings (I remember a story where some writer changed the final line of a poem and in turn the poem completely opposed the statement it had made before the change; that is pretty much how this change works).
This version of The Thomas Crown Affair follows the relationship that blossoms between a white-collar thief (Brosnan) and the insurance officer investigating him (Russo). Along the way, she must meet the problems caused by police officer Michael McCann (Leary) who would rather be busting some thugs than after some painting. As stated before, the robbery involves a priceless painting that Crown steals for his own pleasure and for the thrill of the chase.
The opening and closing parts of the film are
enjoyable (though the ending is pretty bad), but the rest of the film is near awful.
Brosnan and Russo are sub-par (and by the way, I do not think that all that Rene Russo
nudity was needed; Reese Witherspoon in Twilight: understandable, Rene Russo in The
Thomas Crown Affair: no!). McTiernan has proven once again that he cannot direct and
making me even more fearful about The 13th Warrior. None of the comic relief
really works and neither of the stars show any real charisma (especially Russo). Still
there were small moments that I liked in the film, as well as some nice quirky moments,
but the film on a whole is a straight out disappointment. Do yourself a favor and rent the
(Dir: Garry Marshall, Starring Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Hector Elizondo, Rita Wilson, Paul Dooley, Christopher Meloni, Jane Morris, and Laurie Metcalf)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Just when you think it the film world is safe from a Gerry Marshall film, he strikes again. It is usually two or three years in between his films, so when the dreadful The Other Sister came out, everything seemed safe for at least two years. Nope, instead he sticks us with a second film in 6 months. I do not believe the film community can handle that. His crowd pleasing comedy that is terribly unfunny would even make Tom Shadyac frown and we're stuck with a second one so soon. The only thing I can really say is that at least Runaway Bride is better than The Other Sister.
Runaway Bride is less a movie and more a formulaic publicity stunt to reunite the stars of Pretty Woman with the director. Both actors, Gere especially, seem to be just as disturbed as I am that this is how low their careers have sunk. It's like watching a Patty Duke Show reunion on daytime TV and noticing just how little these actors have been able to do since. They are listless and are not near as interesting or interested as when Pretty Woman came out.
Here Roberts plays a Maggie Carpenter who has dumped men at the altar 3 times and is set for her fourth victim. It's not that she is doing it for fun, the reputation is maddening to her. It's just that at the last moment she always sees that this could be a big mistake and runs off. Then a USA Today writer Ike Graham (Gere) writes a less than enchanting article about her in his anti-women column. This so infuriates the rural Maggie that she sends a letter pointing out mistakes in the column (he accuses her of ending seven weddings) to the editor of USA Today causing the editor (Wilson), who also happens to be Ike's ex-wife, to fire him. This so infuriates Ike that he makes a spec deal with the paper to get a first hand look at Maggie from her small Maryland town. There he finds a world very different from New York (the many Andy Griffith Show jokes are very tired and boring) and meets characters that seem like a carbon copy from millions of different romantic comedies. As one can guess the two fall in love, which can mean only one thing: now she has to ruin another wedding.
I only can remember laughing twice at this film,
neither time at the grandmother (unfunny, unfunny, unfunny). The film is boring and
predictable, only letting up a couple of times in which the film seems to have an original
idea. I liked the chemistry between the stars, both working despite not really wanting to
work. Another thing I liked was Meloni as the man betrothed to Maggie, his jock was
endearing and a likable performance (despite a lack of likable dialogue). I think that the
film is a poor film, without a doubt, but when you look at most of Garry Marshall's films,
things do not seem quite as bad.
|Deep Blue Sea
(Dir: Renny Harlan, Starring Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J, Michael Rapaport, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Stellan Skarsgård)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Without a doubt, some of the biggest laughs I've had this year were at this film. It is a hilarious action film that made me laugh as much as, if not more than, Drop Dead Gorgeous. The only problem is that all the things I laughed at were not going for laughs. Whether trying for bitter drama or tense suspense, Deep Blue Sea is a laugh riot. The fact that the closing song is almost as funny as "How Do I Deal" from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and "River" from A Civil Action in the genre of hilariously bad movie music should say what types of laughs this film conjures up.
I've heard many compare this film to Jaws, but I think that is a little pushing it. Yes it does have some similarities, but they are only skin deep. I actually was more reminded of the awful films Deep Rising and Virus. The characters actually seemed to me to be the same as those in Sphere and Event Horizon (is this a salute to really bad unscary scary movies?).
The film is about the rampage that occurs after two scientists, Susan McAlester (Burrows) and Jim Whitlock (Skarsgård), begin to increase the brain mass of mako sharks as an attempt to make more protein and introduce a cure to Alzheimer's. They have a big aquatic base that is run by Tom (Rapaport), an engineer, and Carter (Jane), a shark wrangler. Then (dramatic music) "as a side effect the sharks got smarter" and begin to eat everything in their way, whether it be a human or a helicopter. With three of these super-sharks on the loose and the entire first floor of their underwater base flooded, all those in the base must get away from the sharks despite not really having anywhere to go.
The effects are cheesy and the direction from hack
director Renny Harlin is his absolute worst (though the shark view camera is pretty
funny). I'm quite ashamed of some of the great actors that are in this: Jackson (well one
must remember Sphere and 187), Jane (this after Boogie Nights?!),
and Skarsgård (and he's one of my favorite modern day actors). None of the cast does
anything that shows any acting talent. The script is so awful that even if the credits say
he only produced it, I know that Akiva Goldsman had to have done some of the writing. The
film is so laughably bad that I cannot in good faith actually give it a F rating, I had
too much fun. If only it had not been the same type of fun as watching Plan 9 from
Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate.