Hey folks, Harry here with a look at two films that didn't make Vorpal Bunny a happy bunny at all. In fact, I do believe that the Vorpal Bunny felt a bit like Bigwig after his battle with General Woundwort... So you might want to do a bit more research before stumbling into a theater with either of these two films. In otherwords... Find out more.
I had the misfortune of seeing two of the most misguided films of 1999 a few days ago. One of which (Deterrence) will hopefully never see the light of day, and the other (Chain of Fools) will be poorly marketed by Warner Brothers and find its way at the bottom of every moviegoer's must-see list on opening weekend.
First, Deterrence. The newly assigned (long backstory) President of the USA (Kevin Pollack) learns a crazed Middle Eastern leader with unknown amounts of nuclear and biological weapons has invaded a nearby country. The President and his team, trapped in a snowstorm in the middle of Colorado, find their way to a small diner and set up a base of operations. What sets itself up to be a tense political thriller turns out to be a boring, illogical waste of film. In that diner sits a very fat Sean Astin, a young waitress from Canada, the weathered cook, and a wealthy couple. Over the next two very long hours these one-dimensional side characters watch as Kevin Pollack sweats, ponders, and jokes his way into a nuclear war with the Middle East.
An impressive turn from Timothy Hutton as Pollack's right hand man is not enough from saving this sorry film from the deep end. The overall tone of the film shifts from outright satire to melodrama to disgusting physical comedy (with a man's face sizzling on a kitchen stove), and leaves the viewer confused and detatched from the (attempt at) tension onscreen. The action of the film takes place in a single room, making the film feel more like a stage play than a motion picture. If the director had used interesting camera angles or a unique production design, the film could have been more interesting, but as it stands now, with an unremarkable cast and an extremely unbelievable ending, Deterrence is definately one to miss.
This 'film' marks the directorial debut of Rod Lurie. If you don't know who this man is, he used to be a film critic. I hesitate to use that phrase to desribe him because his only skill was to be a complete ass, both in print and on his radio show. There's a lesson in this, kids: if you bitch and moan enough in the entertainment industry, someone is bound to give you some money to make a movie. It worked for this jackass, so it can work for you too.
Enough ranting about Deterrence. Let me rant about Chain of Fools
This comedy/crime-caper film from Warner Brothers, to be released later this Spring, stars Steve Zahn, Salma Hayek, Elijah Wood, Jeff Goldbloom, and a cast of dozons of recognizable character actors. In the same vein as Two Days In The Valley, the film follows the exploits of several characters revolving around the heist of a few rare coins. Steve Zahn, a barber with a bad haircut, overhears Jeff Goldbloom talking about the coins, and finds himself entangled in the crime. Salma Hayek, playing a very unbelievable police detective, tracks him down and, while assesing his guilt...
***FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIM***
Now, if that phrase, put between Salma Hayek and Steve Zahn, makes you cringe too, then you must understand how uncomfortable I felt watching Salma and Steve stripping. One hot woman and a dopey guy do not equal a beliveable movie match! When will these studio executives get it? Perhaps I am biased, but as a woman, I am sick and tired of these ludicrous match-ups between screen couples. Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow? Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery?
Enough about the match-up, what about the story? Well, my earlier allusion to Two Days in the Valley stands here as well. This film is as convoluted and unfunny as you can get. There are a few cute details that make some scenes sparkle with imagination, but the suicide jokes, the bratty kid, the unfunny characters, make the whole film very weak. For example, Elijah Wood plays a teenage hitman whose parents committed suicide when he was a kid. Steve Zahn's parents committed suicide when he was a child, making him a loser in life and his sister a slut with a psychopathic son. Salma Hayek's father committed suicide when she was a child. Does any of this sound funny to you? Me neither.
If the film had spent a little more time fleshing out the characters perhaps the film would have succeeded a bit more. As it stands, with too many characters, not enough laughs, and an ending that can be seen for miles, Chain of Fools just didn't work.
Please, if there is a film god, let there be some good films out there in our near future. I know the Spring is usually used as a dumping ground for all those films not deemed worthy enough of Oscar consideration., but The Beach? Down to You? Have mercy on us, please!