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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.24%
Worth A Look37.93%
Average: 24.14%
Pretty Bad: 12.64%
Total Crap: 8.05%

5 reviews, 57 user ratings

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by Loey Lockerby

"Very funny - even when it's supposed to be"
2 stars

“Cellular” is really two totally different movies spliced together. One is a twisty thriller about Kim Basinger’s overactive tear ducts. The other is a comedy about an everyman trying to be a hero in a very unheroic Los Angeles. Bet you can guess which one sucks.

Basinger actually seems to have become a worse actress since winning her Oscar, and it’s an ordeal to watch her shake and scream as Jessica Martin, a high school biology teacher who is inexplicably kidnapped while getting ready for work one morning. The bad guys, led by Jason Statham (“The Transporter”), are really after Jessica’s husband, who has something they want badly enough that they’ll kill him, her, and their young son to get it.

Apparently, biology teachers are technological whizzes, because Jessica figures out how to hotwire a telephone that her captors have smashed to bits in the attic where they’re keeping her. She connects with the cell phone of Ryan (Chris Evans), a young slacker who becomes Jessica’s unlikely savior, as he tries to protect her family while hoping his signal and battery don’t die out.

It’s this use of a cell phone as a central plot point that makes “Cellular” different. Those little beeping monsters have been featured in plenty of films before, but never quite so cleverly, and first-time screenwriter Chris Morgan gets everything he can out of the set-up. He also throws in plenty of absurd humor, with poor Ryan reluctantly breaking about 50 major laws as he gets more and more caught up in Jessica’s plight.

The slapstick elements of Ryan’s adventures set the movie apart and provide moderate entertainment value, even if the humor is about as subtle as a whoopee cushion. The director, David R. Ellis, is a former stuntman, and he has a little too much fun staging his chases and action scenes. But, hey, anything is an improvement over the “serious” material, as at least two-thirds of “Cellular” is devoted to Basinger’s overheated woman-in-peril routine and the silly plot mechanics that drive it. Who the hell thought this would be interesting?

Larry Cohen, that’s who. He came up with the idea for this nonsense. He’s also the guy who thought up “Phone Booth” (somebody has communication technology issues!). That movie worked because it was so simple - guy gets into a phone booth, crazy dude points a gun at his head and threatens to shoot him if he hangs up. It was absurd, but thanks to Colin Farrell’s panic and Kiefer Sutherland’s creepy voice, it was fun, too. Even Joel Schumacher couldn’t jack it up. This time around, Cohen’s idea gets padded out with lots of filler, with interminable scenes designed to stretch this thing out to 90 minutes. A word of advice, fellas: In Thriller World, less is more.

In fact, here’s my Monday morning quarterback rewrite. An unkown actress plays Jessica, and her face isn’t shown until the end, if at all (or Basinger gets hired again, but ditto on the not showing her face). Ryan picks up the phone and gets sent on his wild goose chase, with the audience discovering clues exactly when he does. All extraneous characters are cut out, putting the focus exclusively on this one guy and his desperate efforts to help a disembodied stranger on the other end of a fading cell phone.

Wouldn’t that have been a better movie? No histrionics, no convoluted backstories, no gratuitous Basinger blubbering. Sounds a lot like “Phone Booth,” which sounds good to me.

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originally posted: 09/11/04 06:31:48
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell killer thriller 4 stars
9/19/07 JM Synth Hugely contrived and a little dull but it is cheerfully silly 3 stars
6/10/07 R.W. Welch Not a bad premise but too contrived. Average acting. 3 stars
4/27/07 mb Lots of action, fun movie. 4 stars
1/30/07 Matt Welcome back the ever gorgeous Kim. Silly but reasonably original plot-and it does work! 4 stars
7/14/06 Stanley Thai A very thrilling film. VERY fast paced and some funny moments. The best thriller of 2004. 5 stars
6/07/06 Asif I like cheese(deal with it) 4 stars
4/10/06 Fabi Very good movie. 5 stars
3/23/06 The Talking Elbow Reminds me of watching porn without any sex in it. 2 stars
2/11/06 Loopt Low quality film for the brainless masses, don't bother 2 stars
2/03/06 Steve Newman I enjoyed this film immensely - good idea although extremely far fetched!!! 4 stars
1/05/06 me better than the film I shot of paul smith sucking off his dad 4 stars
10/26/05 Paul Smith This movie was absolute rubbish, the acting and plot were woeful 1 stars
9/27/05 Daniela Great movie, got it on DVD 5 stars
9/07/05 Taylor Fladgate Decent action flick, which some twists. 4 stars
9/05/05 Lenny Went Movie. Best Movie I Ever Saw. 5 stars
8/27/05 Dane Great movie 5 stars
8/21/05 Doremimi WHAT A RIDE! An utterly ridiculous ride, but a blast nonetheless! 4 stars
8/19/05 ES trailer tells us bad guys were cops, did we need to know that? save a little for the film 3 stars
7/09/05 ALDO Well Worth watching 4 stars
6/28/05 Steven This movie is garbage 1 stars
6/18/05 gray dave It was pretty damn good save 1 or 2 problems 4 stars
5/28/05 Indrid Cold A slick, MTVesque actioner. Not bad. 4 stars
4/19/05 David Awesome 5 stars
3/31/05 Nick Boyd Highly implausible but moderately suspenseful 3 stars
3/29/05 albert ¡RYAN!¡JESSICA!¡RYAN!¡JESSICA! 3 stars
3/06/05 Susan Sunderland Way better than I expected. Enjoyable 5 stars
2/15/05 American Slasher Goddess It's not nothing we haven't seen before, but it's passable. 3 stars
2/05/05 LilyM I didn't expect it be good at all, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! 5 stars
2/04/05 Barbara Long I thought this was really good film, I'd watch it again 5 stars
1/28/05 Charlie A little fast paced, but interesting plot with a ton of action 4 stars
1/23/05 Dan Great Movie!! 5 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Not a slow moment. Action and suspense deluxe in a well done B+ movie. 5 stars
1/14/05 Turtle Nothing more than a Nokia commercial. And a shitty one at that. 1 stars
1/09/05 Feliciano man, its a really good movie, well done and zero cheesyness 5 stars
1/01/05 Mike Predictable popcorn crap. Contrived, unbelievable and ridiculous. 1 stars
12/15/04 Etheridge Hoogendijk Kim Basinger is GOOD in it. Why so much damn sullen distress about her role? 4 stars
12/14/04 Evangelica Schnapfenschalz Yep, Jessica Biel plays too many obnoxious girlfriends of guys too pussywhipped to dump 'em 4 stars
12/14/04 Hilary Adamson Could've been awesome without Jessica Biel's character mucking it up. 4 stars
12/01/04 nick2k no real plot, but not bad if you see what the movie is driven by. but 'phone booth' owns! 4 stars
10/20/04 Steve Kelley Breaks the rules by giving extras the best lines. But fresh because of it. 4 stars
9/24/04 Agent Sands Actually nothing like "Phone Booth." More like "Speed." Statham makes a good villain. 4 stars
9/23/04 jcjs terrible, beyond contrived, can't believe Ebert gave it 3.5/4.0, my first 'Total Crap' 1 stars
9/22/04 Maz Not bad. Suggest it for a cheap ticket, or a rental 4 stars
9/20/04 Robin Kept me in deep suspense 5 stars
9/20/04 jeff cheesy, good nokia and porsche adv, the hot chick from texa chainsaw mas is in it :) 3 stars
9/20/04 doug bad idea to begin with; the plot is ridiculous and the acting is average; I walked out 2 stars
9/17/04 me A good film 4 stars
9/17/04 ANDREW Awful signal coming from Screen in form a horrid movie 1 stars
9/17/04 Kyle Wellcome Interesting plot, little cheesy at times, but overall good flick 4 stars
9/15/04 Master of Sinanju Kim basinger's facelift is MUCH too tight.She should have had her box tightened too! 2 stars
9/14/04 Mark D Fulwiler Hang up on this phone call! 2 stars
9/14/04 Elizabeth Entertaining "popcorn movie"; Evans a charismatic lead. 3 stars
9/13/04 me A great film 5 stars
9/12/04 Galadie I've seen better made-for-tv movies 1 stars
9/11/04 SB Suspenseful, funny & a HOT leading man! 5 stars
9/11/04 Verizon not a sponser If they were, then Kim would be dead in 10 minutes 3 stars
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  10-Sep-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Jan-2005



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