Quick hits: THE INVISIBLE GIRL, ABANDON, ENOUGH, THE GUEST, NO GOOD DEED, THE RINGER
April 14th, 2004
Script Review: QUICK HITS
Review(s) by Honest Abe
Review(s) by Honest Abe
NOTE: The screenplays we review are often in development and may experience many rewrites, some could end up being completely different than what is reviewed here. It is our hope that our reviews generate more interest in the film. Thank you.
THE INVISIBLE GIRL (mixed, minor spoilers)
This is not some kind of comic book type movie. Rachel Lee Cook stars as the title character but she's not invisible in the physical sense (cause that would be a damn shame!) No, Rachel's character, Jennifer, is simply going through the days as an unnoticed person. It all stems from her hippie parents who, first of all, were surprised she was born (she was an unexpected twin) and then they adopt a Vietnamese baby who is already named Jennifer. Anyway, Jen is the shy and quiet type. She is the kind of person that you don't give a moment's thought too (man, they're really gonna have to play her down.) One night, she witnesses a murder and then sees a thief (the ski mask and gloves are kind of a give-away) come upon the body. Both men see Jen who quickly bolts. (The two men are not working together, by the way). The thief, Nicholas, finds Jen the next day when she comes back to the murder scene (where the press is naturally gathered). He kidnaps her and brings her back to his place and explains that he's not the killer. Jen of course knows this but then again; this is the first real excitement she's ever had in her life. A good portion of the story then involves these two getting to know each other better. Nicholas is actually a thief working with a friend who plans to rob an armored truck. The killer is really just a back-story. Even the cops aren't really a factor until Jen realizes that the killer is getting close to her. She issues an open challenge to him through the media and the game is on for what is a kinda quick resolution. Now, I found this to be well written in a quirky independent type of way. I like the banter between Jen and Nicholas. My only problem really is how easy Jen is able to slip in and out of situations without being seen. It's almost like she really is invisible! Which again, she isn't. I've been a fan of Miss Cook's for awhile and I appreciate her taking on quirky roles like this one but between you and me, if I saw her walking down the street...trust me she wouldn't be invisible. Bottom line: this little independent film could be a nice quirky (i like that word, so sue me) breath of fresh air if you're looking to get away from your big studio films. At the very least, I'd recommend a matinee/sneak in. The dialogue's kinda snappy which is a plus.
ABANDON (positive, minor spoilers)
Katie Holmes plays...Katie (whew, a stretch!) a senior in college who's just shy of graduation and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Benjamin Bratt is Alvin Handler, a detective struggling through the opening days of going through alcohol rehab. He is also investigating the disappearance of Katie's boyfriend Embry who vanished without a trace 2 years earlier. Right away, you get a sense of what a fragile character Alvin is and I'm hoping that Bratt can employ a lot of depth into this role, as he's the most interesting in the script. Katie is still scarred by Embry's disappearance and we see through flashbacks that Embry was the first real love of her life, not to mention the first person who opened her small town eyes to the world. Soon though, Katie in the present is seeing what she thinks are flashes of Embry. Has he come back or is it all in her head and she's going nuts? Naturally, sparks begin to fly once Katie and Alvin begin to talk about Embry. As we see in continued flashbacks, Embry was a wanna-be rebel. The kind of punk who thinks he's above the establishment and you know, like all this is bullshit and you're just feeding into the capitalist superstructure and blah blah blah (editorial: I fucking hate these people, especially young people who act like this. A big fuck you to all of you!.now back to our review) Once Katie is convinced that Embry has indeed come back, her friend Harrison disappears. Now, since Embry and Harrison didn't like each other, Katie's world begins to fly further apart. (taking ecstasy doesn't help much either) She's conflicted about her feelings for Alvin as well. Is she truly going mad? This should provide Katie Holmes with the beginnings of a break out career as she leaves Dawson's Creek. She hasn't disappointed me yet (The Gift, even though it was a minor role, Disturbing Behavior, a great guilty pleasure movie, and Go) I'm know that she won't be able to play young student type roles forever but there's a depth to her that I hope we can at least get a peek at in Abandon. I'm more looking forward to Bratt's portrayal of the fragile cop on the edge. There's a great moment where he simply says 'fuck it' and enters a bar. Of course, I'm not gonna ruin everything for you. I'll say this, it's well written and has a twist or two that I didn't see coming until the last moment. The last scene should be good for shock value. One obscure hint: Pet Cemetery. Stew on that one!) Bottom line: if the trailer doesn't give away too much (translation: it will) check it out. I know I will.
THE GUEST (negative, minor spoilers)
With a cast including Tara Reid, Ashton Kutcher, Carmen Elektra, Andy Richter, Molly Shannon, and Terence Stamp(?!?!?), you'd think this would have great potential to be a laugh riot. I don't know about you but I don't need my comedies to hit me over the head and scream "look how funny we are!" This was a prime example of over-kill...to the 10th power. The plot is simplistic: Ashton (dude, where's my career?) stars as Tom, a typical office schlub and all around nice guy (read: wuss) who only wants to get close to Lisa, the bosses daughter. Through a miscommunication, Tom winds up house-sitting for the boss while he's out of town and Lisa goes off to a concert with her boyfriend. That's when the hijinks begin. It seems pretty much everyone winds up descending on the house, from the recently fired secretary, to the estranged son and his drug dealing contact. Throw in a prized owl and it's a recipe for laughter. NOT! The big problem was that it was simply TOO much. I kept reading knowing full well that all is gonna be resolved in the last three pages (and sure enough.....). It was to the point where I wonder if the writers were thinking, 'gee, what ELSE can I have happen to this schlep?' Tom has no backbone what so ever and it's because of this that he lets everyone run over him like a never-ending train of disasters. Enough already, I cried. Just bring on the Hollywood-everything's gonna be okay-ending already! Unfortunately there's not enough of Tara to sustain my attention and I find Ashton to be annoying in any shape or form. Everything from drug dealing, to the cops, to homosexual jokes and the requisite to Evander Holyfield's friggin ear!! (told you there was too much). I think this would have been better if there was less jokes and more attempt at trying to resolve those situations without piling on more and more AND MORE! Also, and I know it's supposed to be his character but Tom is such a doormat that after awhile I was glad all the crap was happening to him. Bottom line: I wouldn't bother wasting my time on even a sneak in.
NO GOOD DEED (positive, minor spoilers)
Samuel Jackson stars as a good cop having a bad day. He's Jack, a grizzled veteran who's about to take his first vacation in years. Being the good guy that he is, he agrees to check out the disappearance of a friend's daughter, just before he leaves town. Well, it's the classic case of mixed up information as he's sent to the wrong street and gets involved with a group of seriously fucked up characters. Basically, he stumbles upon a plot to steal a large amount of bonds. The man behind this plot is Tyrone. His muscle is Hoop and the seductress (there's always one in a story like this) is Erin (Milla Jovovich). (By the way, if done right, this could be one of the memorable roles of the year for Milla.) Pretty much the whole movie takes place in one night with Jack captured in the house with these characters who also include the elderly couple Mr. and Mrs. Quarre. Tyrone is essentially just using everyone for his goals and it's up to Jack to try to out-guess everyone's next move. The best scenes are the cat and mouse game that Jack and Erin play when they're left alone. What is Erin's connection to Tyrone and just what is Jack to believe when everyone is out for themselves only? I know this review sucks but I really can't say anything more without giving away something crucial. The ending left me with a slight question but of course, we're talking about Sammy Jackson so you know he'll deliver. Bottom line: wait for the trailer and see just how this plays out but this could be one of those little movies that comes out with little fanfare but winds being much talked about. At the very least, this should be a good matinee. I'm there! (did I mention Sammy (Jules -- Mace -- Shaft -- walking definition of cool) Jackson?
ENOUGH (negative, minor spoilers)
Sleeping with the Enemy II would be a more appropriate title. I don't understand what prompted this movie to be made because it's a tired story. Woman meets man who sweeps her off her feet but he's not what he seemed. Terrified, she finds the courage to leave and fight back. Dude gets what he deserves. Like I said, a basic story. What really had me cracking up though was the fact that for nearly 80+ pages, Slim (which is J. Lo's character name....shoulda been Booty!) is such a nervous woman on the run after she flees Mitch and takes their daughter Gracie (she's about 7) that it's laughable how she does a complete 180 and decides to take training and kick his ass. The dumbest part of all this is her father, Jupiter. He's nothing more than a plot device who gives her money when she needs it and hooks her up with her physical trainer. I gotta say he's one of the dumbest and most poorly written characters I've read in a while. Then there's Mitch the hubby. At least he's not described as a musclehead. You know, 6'5" 245lbs of solid muscle. No, but he does have a build (I guess kinda like Brad Pitt in Snatch) and he's tall. He's also fabulously wealthy which allows him to employ every means to track Slim and Gracie down. Otherwise, he's your basic macho asshole. He buys and sells people like water. Look, fans of J. Lo (who I haven't enjoyed in a movie since Out of Sight) are gonna get their fix, particularly when she's buffing up to an ass kicker towards the later part of the movie but otherwise, do you really feel the need to drop cash on what essentially is a big budget USA Movie of the Week? I don't.
THE RULES OF ATTRACTION (mixed, minor spoilers)
I know other people have contributed their viewpoints on this script or a sneak preview already so I'll keep this short. Weird. and So What? come to mind. This is one majorly dark character study that most surely will snap James Vanderbeek out of Dawson mode for quite some time. All the main characters are fucked up in their own right. While it's deep and interesting, I just had an underlying feeling of who gives a shit? I mean, these aren't normal characters much less people I'd even want to know. Self torturing is just not my cup of tea. If for any reason, watch this for the acting. Storyline? Just really ain't there for me. The events of whatever the story is take place over the course of a few days at a university (just some random school.) There's Lauren, who's lonely but is a real winner when it comes to picking men. Sean is a youthful maniac in training (and younger brother to Patrick Bateman of American Psycho). Paul is a mentally fucked up bi-sexual (and ex of Lauren). A part of this story is about their attempts at sexual conquest. For Paul, it's trying to score with a guy who has already cut him down...hard. Sean is obsessed with whoever is leaving notes in his mailbox. Lauren is hung up on Sean, as is her roommate Lara. Like I said, this is a giant character study but the story itself really goes nowhere. I guess it's about sexual identity. I know that my head hurt by the time I was done reading it. One interesting thing though is the way the script starts out. The three main characters are introduced one at a time. After each introduction, the scene plays backwards to the point where the next character arrives. Should make for a unique visual. Bottom line: unless the buzz starts to go through the roof, I just can't seem to get too excited about this. Maybe a good sneak in/time killer but unless Jessica Biel is naked (Lara) then I'd wait for video.
THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE (mixed, minor spoilers)
Kevin Spacey stars as David Gale, a hard core anti death penalty advocate who finds himself behind bars and a few days shy of execution himself for the rape and murder of his partner, Constance. With 3 days to go, he grants an interview to Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet, I believe) and her intern/assistant Zach to try to "clear the air" on a few things. We are thusly subjected to an in-depth look at David's life as a university professor to his disgrace from a charge of raping a student (which was dismissed but the stigma cost him his family) to how he wound up on death row. Over the 3 days, Bitsey becomes convinced of David's innocence and sets out to prove it. I'll admit, up to this point I was getting quite bored and I figured since I'm almost 70 pages into this, I might as well stick it out to the end. The set-up is veeeeerrrrryyyy long and booooorrrrring. I understand why it's this way but ...*yawn..if you get the idea. I'm sure it will be another stellar performance by Spacey and a nice departure for Winslet. No corsets needed here, honey. There is a shadowy figure spotted early on that practically screams "villain" and so I thought this to be a basic formula death row pic. blah blah blah. Well, I was VERY surprised by the wrap up and the final scene proved to be quite a surprise. I sure as hell didn't see THAT coming. It's the kind of ending that will leave you stunned and yet wanting to talk about it. I'm not talking about a Sixth Sense (he's dead, Jim) kind of ending but definitely something to look forward to. Bottom line: matinee. The set is long-winded but the payoff is nice.
THE RINGER (positive, minor spoilers)
Steve is a your basic office schlep and when he tries to get himself a better position, he inadvertently costs the janitor a couple of fingers (don't ask!) Welcome to The Ringer, the latest helping from the Farrelley Brothers. The basic plot is about a normal guy who enters the special Olympics with the plan to win the gold, dethrone the champion, and have his uncle bet on the games so they can both clear their debts. Sounds like good family fun right? I'll admit after the first few pages I thought this was just gonna be a typical dumb slapstick comedy that tries to hard but I was so wrong. This is actually a comedy with good intentions and it portrays the athletes of the Special Olympics as people not needing our sympathy but people who are just as competitive and for lack of a better word, "normal" as the rest of us schleps. Steve's uncle Gary is in it to the mob for several grand so he's the one who comes up with the idea of rigging the Olympics so assuming the identity of "Jeffy", Steve enters the race thinking he'll clean up only to realize how out of shape he really is. The champion is Jimmy but as we'll see, Jimmy is really not a nice guy. Enter Lynn, a volunteer at the Olympics who takes Steve under her wing to help him compete. (Gee, think Steve is gonna fall for her???) One of the things I liked best was the way their relationship was handled, especially the development of Lynn's character and her motivations. Some of the other athletes such as Billy, Thomas and Mark are able to see past Steve's lie but they actually help him in his quest to defeat Jimmy. Steve really comes to care for these guys and at the same time really gets in touch with himself and his unfinished goals. Sounds mushy at times but it really is handled with a fair amount of taste (come on, it can't be all clean, it's the Farrelleys). I was impressed at how the majority of the characters are well developed and you really do get to care for the athletes (except Jimmy cause he's a prick). Bottom line: I'd definitely catch this most charming little comedy that thankfully isn't nearly as gross-out as it could have been. There are a few squeamish moments (it's the FARRELLEY!) but it's quite restrained and instead focuses on character motivation and plot.
ZIG ZAG (positive, major spoilers)
All I had heard about this project was that Wesley Snipes was involved. I'm not quite sure how but I do know that this has the potential to be a sweet story about a 15 year old African boy nick-named ZigZag who's a little slow in the head. Not mentally retarded, more autistic. He's got a good head for numbers (memorizing and such) and he's a really sweet kid who unfortunately just isn't too sharp. He goes to a special school and works in the kitchen in a restaurant for a big guy called Toad as a dishwasher. He also has an abusive alcoholic father named Fletcher who's always taking money from him. ZigZag's one saving grace is a Big Brother, Singer, who unfortunately is slowly dying. Well, Zig happens to see Toad opening his safe, he memorizes the combo and steals the money to pay his dad. See, Zig doesn't think it's a bad thing but he tell Singer who comes up with a plan to put the money back before a smart cop named Hawke figures out that it was an inside job. The only thing missing is a hooker with a heart of gold...oh wait, she's here too and her name is Jenna. I've given away too much already but like I said, this just may be a dramatic little story with heart if done right. The key thing will be to find the right boy to portray Zig. Personally, I'd like to see a newcomer, a fresh face. Bottom line: could be a nice way to spend some time soaking in an afternoon matinee.
WILLARD (negative, minor spoilers)
Okay, I've never seen the original but regardless of that let's get into this. Willard (the character and the script) is pathetic. He's a loser with no friends who lives with his mom and works in the firm that was owned by his father until he sold it to his greedy partner. Willard finds rats in his basement and takes one on as a pet. Soon, Willard learns to command and control the rats like a general does an army. Willard meets Ben, described as being 18 inches long looking like a small dog, and soon realizes that he can use the rats to exact revenge against his boss. I can't tell if they're going for a character study of tragic proportions or a horror flick. HOW BOUT NEITHER??? This is a pure bore snore fest. The only bright spot is a female temp who works with Willard but she's badly underwritten. There are so many 'so what's' going throughout my mind as I read this, followed by an ocean of "who cares." There is one thing I have to mention about an early scene. Willard freaks when he first sees the rats. It's almost as if he's gonna have a heart attack but as soon as he comes upon a trapped baby rat, he suddenly pulls a 180 and acts like a new mother. I'm sorry, I can't continue to waste your time or mine on this review any more. Bottom line: AVOID LIKE THE PLAUGE!!!
PUKA PETE (negative, minor spoilers)
I am a huge David Spade fan. I went opening night to see "Joe Dirt" and laughed my nuts off. That said, I was so disappointed in reading his next feature which he co-wrote. It opens up in the late 60's where Pete has a band but his lyrics, well, they suck. He gets swallowed up by a whale (don't ask) and spit out on a beach for 30 years but he at first thinks it's only been 2 years. To make matters worse, it turns out he has been on the far side of Hawaii and not some uncharted island the whole time. Of course there's the jokes involving him trying to adjust. Also, his immune system hasn't developed to withstand life today so often he has bizarre reactions to the slightest things. The main just of the script involves Pete trying to find true love and through a mix up, he thinks he has found it in supermodel Malena. He believes her to be a kindred spirit but of course every time he gets near her, something causes him to have a violent reaction. Also, Pete's not poor. The same whale that swallowed him up keeps spitting up gobs of pirate treasure so Pete is financially secure. The problem is that the script was SOOOOO predictable. Maybe I just possess keen insight but aside from a few jokes I laughed at, and a riff or to on "Castaway", there wasn't anything to really grab me and say "hey, go spend 9 bucks on this!!!" There's the reunion with his former hippie girlfriend who's now all business and money and she kinda helps him back on his feet and adjust to everything new. I would rather have had him just try to adjust the whole movie because in my opinion, the love story angle just didn't work. Bottom line: I love David Spade but until I see the trailer, I'm afraid I'll pass. (Maybe I'll sneak in.)