by Charles Tatum
"I grabbed, and I ran"
For the return of the ol' grab and run, I thought I would ease back into the process like I ease into a warm bath- yes, naked, but also slowly and with caution. Instead of the normal five flicks, I decided to start small and get four.
As I lay back and let Calgon take me away, I'll let you gander at this week's victims: from Comedy- "To Die For," "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar," and "Trial and Error," and from Horror- "Thinner." I wish a century old gypsy would brush my cheek and make my weight problem go away...
"Thinner" is based on Stephen King's novel, and features an incredible Robert John Burke as a fat lawyer who accidentally runs over an old gypsy woman with his car because his wife was, er, playing with his stick shift. A small conspiracy gets the lawyer off (so to speak), so the woman's father puts a gypsy curse on Burke (rubbing his cheek and whispering "thinner"), who begins losing weight rapidly. Good thing he recently defended mobster Joe Mantegna, who helps him try to get the curse removed. The film is good, surprisingly close to King's novel, but I did not think the mob guy worked in the novel and I do not think he works in the film. On the other hand, I have a section of my body that co-star Kari Wuhrer could rub and whisper "bigger." That's a curse I could live with.
Your honor, I object to this film! Lack of hilarity! "Trial and Error" plays like a bad episode of "The Night Court Practice of L.A. Law vs. the Defenders of AUSA Perry Mason." Jeff Daniels gets drunk thanks to doofus friend Michael Richards, and cannot go into a simple continuance hearing in a court case. Actor Richards steps in in his place, and suddenly a trial is on. Richards falls for opposing counsel, Daniels falls for waitress Charlize Theron, and I fell off the couch in a boredom-induced trance. No laughs, and I knew everything that would happen from the beginning to the end. Habeas corpus? No, habeas crappus...let's kill Matt Dillon!
In "To Die For," Nicole Kidman is a small town weather girl with big empty dreams of making it in television. She is married to Dillon, who wants a normal wife and kids, so she beds juvenile delinquent Joaquin Phoenix, who takes her suggestions of killing her husband, and acts on them. While Gus Van Sant's direction is to die for, Buck Henry's screenplay never takes any bold steps into media criticism or dark comedy or satire, merely hinting at these elements. Phoenix is fine, but Kidman is one note, and I was disappointed by this film. To feel better, I put on an evening gown and pumps, and damn it, I AM prettier than Patrick Swayze.
"To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" features Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo as three drag queens on their way to California for a beauty pageant when they get stuck in a tiny town in the Midwest populated by character actors like Arliss Howard, Stockard Channing, and Melinda Dillon. As the three ingratiate themselves to the towns folk, who have no idea the ladies are men, they learn a little something about themselves, too. Ignore some of the sentiment and stereotypes, this is really funny often enough, and the fabulous trio turn in some great work, including Swayze and an impeccable comic timing I have only see him reveal on hosting gigs on "Saturday Night Live." It's fun, and the best film of the week.
That's four, I counted them using my rubber ducky collection. The films, from best to worst:
1. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
3. To Die For
4. Trial and Error
Next time, I get my hoity-toity on, reviewing five (yes, five) documentaries. Don't worry, nothing boring, just lots of sex, drugs, artists, and writers; sounds like the day my divorce became final. See you then.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1139
originally posted: 06/09/04 23:49:01
last updated: 10/08/04 00:42:29