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Overall Rating

Awesome: 37.57%
Worth A Look41.62%
Average: 3.47%
Pretty Bad: 10.4%
Total Crap: 6.94%

8 reviews, 125 user ratings

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Phone Booth
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by Scott Weinberg

"A tightly wound thriller that pushes all the right buttons."
4 stars

Thanks to Phone Booth, I now have another movie to point to when people assume that Popcorn Flicks always have to be stupid. Not likely that this flick will be permanently etched on your brain as one of the most memorable thrillers ever conceived - but damn if it's not a lightning-quick and fantastic way to spend a few hours.

Very few filmmakers get the undeserved shaft like Joel Schumacher does. Sure he's given the world two rather unsatisfying Batman flicks (and the less said about last summer's Bad Company the better) but we're also talking about a guy who's delivered fairly consistently over the course of his eclectic career. Instead of harping about the bat-nipples, keep in mind that this director also gave us The Lost Boys, Flatliners, St. Elmo's Fire, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, (stop giggling; it's a childhood fave) Falling Down (a movie that will be fondly remembered in 25 years), Tigerland, 8MM and A Time to Kill - not exactly the resume of some studio hack trying to play it safe. Plus his latest, Phone Booth, is 90 minutes of rock-solid thrilling get off that damn Batman schtick already.

Colin Farrell is one of my new favorite actors. If his disarmingly aggressive turn in Minority Report is what caught my eye, it was his colorful performances in disposable fare like The Recruit and Daredevil that made me appreciate the value of 'one cool actor stuck in a tiresome flick'. Phone Booth is poised to toss Farrell into the A-list stratosphere, partially because it's an extremely entertaining film and mainly because Farrell knocks the damn screen down with his lead performance.

Farrell plays Stu Shepard, a callous and mercenary (and therefore wonderfully entertaining to behold) publicist who's as slick and stingy as he is good at his job. An extended introduction comes as Stu and a doting lackey parade through the streets of New York, Farrell bellowing arrogantly into his cell phone while the assistant desperately tries to keep up - physically as well as professionally.

Right off the bat it's clear that Stu's not all that nice a chap - yet most audience members will immediately like the guy anyway. Coolness often has the effect. In between calls from obnoxious clients, disinterested reporters and a decidedly indecisive potential conquest, Stu hears a ringing pay phone and picks it up.

Bad move.

The caller on the other end has a few bones to pick with Stu, and since the gravel-voiced intruder clearly has a powerful rifle pointed directly at Stu's heart, the initially skeptical cad quickly begins to realize how much trouble he's really in. When the caller orders him to remain in the phone booth no matter what (despite the vociferous protestations of various hookers, pimps and policemen), Stu finally gets it: he's been scheduled for execution no matter what.

But what precisely does the caller want from our arrogant pseudo-hero?

Phone Booth has surprises, jolts and even a few delicious moments of 'ohmigod gitouttathere' tension - and each of the most enjoyable 'trailer moments' are spread out expertly throughout the film's rather brief running time. (Or maybe the movie's not short, but just breezing by on the power of its own colorful intensity.) Suffice to say that things get suitably shrieky before it's all over - and don't be surprised to find yourself caught up in all of it.

If Schumacher deserves high praise for the slick visuals and quick pacing (this movie has virtually zero slow spots) it's the screenplay by Larry Cohen that deserves accolades for getting such a 'high-concept' conceit to work from the very beginning. In a thriller like this, the audience members are almost always smarter than the protagonist - but I challenge one moviegoer to divulge a better course of action than what Shepard eventually comes up with. Cohen's been a staple of low-budget genre flicks for well over 20 years now, offering movie freaks all sorts of colorful goodies. (If you've ever enjoyed flicks like Q, The Stuff, Best Seller, Body Snatchers, the It's Alive trilogy, or any of the wacko Maniac Cop movies - you can thank screenwriter Larry Cohen. Nice to see the guy's getting a big Studio Payday with this script since Phone Booth is quality "popcorn entertainment" through and through.)

If Farrell is the backbone of the flick (experience his Act III "confession scene" and tell me you're not moved at least a little), the supporting cast provides most of the heart and soul. Forest Whittaker is forceful-yet-clearly intelligent as the ranking police officer on the scene, while Katie Holmes capably fills the role of Beautiful Young Actress. (She is a Beautiful Young Actress after all...) Radha Mitchell has a tough role and handles herself wonderfully. (Try being told your husband's about to die AND he was planning a hotel room tryst with a Beautiful Young Actress and try to drudge up the appropriate emotions for both - at the same time.) Kiefer Sutherland provides the voice for The Caller...and we all know how creepy Kiefer can be when he amps up that Dark Vibe he's obviously got brewing inside.

-> The phone just rang and I explained to a friend that I couldn't talk because I was near-finished my Phone Booth review. "Ooh, how was it?" he asked. Without missing a beat I said "It's candy but it's really well-made and tasty candy". He called me a dork for using the word 'tasty' but I'd stand by that assessment: Phone Booth is popcorn entertainment of the highest caliber; not a flick that will grace your All-Time lists any time soon but one that will absolutely keep your ass glued to the seat for 90-some minutes and force you from the theater discussing the fun you just had.

And in my book that's always worth 8 bucks.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/19/03 07:27:24
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell tense entertaing thriller 4 stars
12/21/14 Dane R. Youssef An enthralling claustrophobic thriller. Almost makes one happy phone booths are extinct. 5 stars
11/06/11 Chris. Everyone I know hates it--not sure why... 4 stars
2/20/11 Ark Confession scene was killer. Farell trying to hedge , killer ordering him to tell! 4 stars
6/01/10 User Name The menacing voice of Kiefer Sutherland makes this thriller two hours of palpable tension. 3 stars
4/29/10 brian Thank you Mr. Hitchcock for making films like this possible. 4 stars
1/17/10 Movie Hater! Hollywood selling names with this crap! Wish I never saw it! I am tainted! Weak as shit! 1 stars
10/28/09 the dork knight Defies logic at a few points, but a slick and imaginative thriller. Farrell pwns. 5 stars
10/19/08 Samantha Pruitt pretty good, very suspenseful and interesting! 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
11/19/07 R.W.Welch Pushes the gimmick to the max, but very good work by Farrell. B- 4 stars
3/31/07 action movie fan teriffic suspense-farrel trapped in phone booth wrongly accused 5 stars
3/07/07 dprodigy Kiefer's voice is COMIN TO KILL MEEEEEEE! 4 stars
1/10/07 johnnyfog Bad ending (like most thrillers), but probably one of Farell's best performances. Wow. 4 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
9/07/06 Booksworm Kiefer Sutherland has the scariest voice I've heard since Andy Serkis in Lord of the Rings! 4 stars
3/29/06 Anthony Feor Can somebody tell me why this movie was made 1 stars
1/18/06 JM Synth Alot of fun... if you can get past the first 10 minutes 4 stars
12/26/05 CZ By far the worst and most forgettable film I've ever watched 1 stars
11/09/05 Stan L tense and entertaining, if short 4 stars
10/28/05 tatum One of Schumacher's strongest films 5 stars
10/27/05 chris a great movie i loved it and congradulations to collin farrell for a great performance 5 stars
10/13/05 Wisamane colin farrell is a shitty actor, reuind the movie 1 stars
10/11/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME, ONE OF Kiefer Suhterland's BEST FILMS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/22/05 ES Makes me want pizza everytime I see it, worth a look for anyone who enjoys a thriller 4 stars
4/19/05 The Sorrow A CHILLER-THRILLER-KILLER of a movie...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/09/05 Melissa B Fantastic chiller. Colin Farrell plays his part very well. 5 stars
3/11/05 The Sorrow Very hypnotic... Better than most thrillers today! 5 stars
2/23/05 Richard Simmons colin farrell is hott, and im not even gay! 2 stars
2/16/05 yeya regalado this movie wus da clean!!! 5 stars
1/22/05 Mr. Durden This movie is really good. At the very least, give it a rent. 5 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams Damn good. Kiefer's voice gives me goosiebumpies 5 stars
11/23/04 Steve Newman 90 minutes of great entertainment 4 stars
10/24/04 Fenstwhip Shiggins Worst pisser movie ever. Terrorist turns out to be avenging angel [read Devil actually].BS! 1 stars
9/27/04 Archanist_101 KIEFER SUTHERLAND fucking RULE_z !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/05/04 Stefan Halka What do you know - that hack Larry Cohen actually wrote a quality film. 4 stars
9/04/04 jeff good movie, dont like colin farrell thogh, thinks he is all that, kinda annoyin 4 stars
9/03/04 Daveman Brings nothing new to genre. Recommended only if you're REALLY bored. 2 stars
7/25/04 Pure RAGE... There should be a "Phone BOOTH: Re-DIAL" 5 stars
7/23/04 booklover Excellent storyline and production, but I would have liked it better with less profanity. 4 stars
5/16/04 Sean An excellent trio of characters, a frighteningly real premise, and superior dialogue. 5 stars
4/29/04 Sutherland Sutherland time wo,wo 5 stars
4/17/04 BaztarD_101 Kiefer Sutherland... WOW! 5 stars
4/10/04 jert yeah Farrel is good, nice tension and great black boobies!! 4 stars
4/07/04 Sig wow 5 stars
4/02/04 Geo78665 Good, but with this premise, it should've been ever better. 4 stars
3/27/04 pAY dAY great film 5 stars
3/25/04 SrM This movie rulz 5 stars
3/22/04 Keifer Sutherland_RULZ You know why I'm rating this... Sutherland RULES! 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern This really does deserve a sequeal or should be praised as a classic 5 stars
3/18/04 Umbrella Corporation. Keifer Sutherland's finest hour... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/17/04 PAYNE_KillerZ Morale vigilantes... FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/24/04 LIAM JACKSON Does for phone booths what Psycho did for showers. great film. 5 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Kiefer is great 4 stars
1/28/04 Dennis Himenez Manipulative, preposterous, morality play disguised as a thriller. 1 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Quite good - I have to admit, I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of it. 4 stars
1/03/04 A F It's quite a stretch. I'm not buying it. 2 stars
12/21/03 Littlepurch WICKED! Thought it would be boring but it was GR8!!! 5 stars
12/18/03 MIND OF A LUNATIC Superb 5 stars
11/28/03 TNT Too tiny personal story,the sniper has no reality. 1 stars
11/14/03 Mark Lyons I thought this was a totally hot movie omg 5 stars
10/12/03 Monster W. Kung Interesting concept and some good scenes, but implausibility and cliches bring it down. 3 stars
8/13/03 Nancy295 Riveting movie - never checked my watch - Colin is hot! 4 stars
8/08/03 dado excellent movie 5 stars
8/04/03 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KEITH SUTHERLAND'S VOICE RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/25/03 Double G Good plot, but the whole movie takes place in a phone booth but it keeps you watching 3 stars
7/24/03 Ingo Sure it's entertaining, but a little unidimensional... 4 stars
7/23/03 May Q. Horney You need a scumbag shooting at you for neglecting your spouse? I don't think so!!! 1 stars
7/17/03 anitanium best 5 stars
7/12/03 Joe COOL 5 stars
7/11/03 Troy Butler Very well done, ... at less than 90 minutes, keeps you entertained for the whole movie!!! 4 stars
7/07/03 Terrance Rogers It was good. The 2 funny parts is when he tried to steal the chips and when he p'd on hisse 5 stars
6/26/03 Laurian Diaconescu This shows how a decent movie can be done without giving priority to dumb special effects. 4 stars
6/22/03 John Bale Taut claustrophobic well acted thriller, with a strong ending. 4 stars
6/11/03 FLiK It was a great stand-off movie...Second only to Dog Day Afternoon 5 stars
6/05/03 Shadaan Felfeli bludy entertaining ! 4 stars
5/21/03 Kate Superb movie 5 stars
5/21/03 Nancy N. pretty silly, and farrell sounded like an Irishman trying to do a NY accent (oh, wait...) 2 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Wonder how they fill 2 hours with a guy in a phone booth? With a guy in a phone booth. 3 stars
5/11/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back, Mo'fos!!!) People, think past the trailer and see this excellent, enthralling movie! 5 stars
5/08/03 George Jung Poor Opening. Poor Ending. This is pure rental crap. 3 stars
5/03/03 Jackson62 Farrel is the star but Sutherland owns the movie. BEST MOVIE (so far) THIS YEAR! 5 stars
4/28/03 Oh no I'm so sorry I saw this movie 1 stars
4/27/03 michaelb14 Great Movie, Keifer Sutherland was creepy as hell as usual 5 stars
4/23/03 Andrew Carden Holmes Just Slows Things Down. Otherwise, A Fun Little Action Thriller. 4 stars
4/23/03 George Jung This is a film with something to say...homoeroticism is good. 2 stars
4/23/03 Eric Ruprecht It was Awesome 5 stars
4/22/03 C Henderson Oscar Worthy Performance 5 stars
4/21/03 Edler Reminded me of Speed. Pretty good, nothing amazing 4 stars
4/20/03 Titus This is how movies should be. 5 stars
4/20/03 David Deo Absolutely amazing movie that keeps your brain and your bum on the edge. 5 stars
4/19/03 Jin This is a film with something to listen! 5 stars
4/18/03 654 PHAT 5 stars
4/16/03 Em Wow! Joel deserves top hounors 5 stars
4/14/03 poetchuck Interesting twists 4 stars
4/13/03 BSE Awesome 5 stars
4/12/03 kevron this movie was not all that entertaining, constant cliches got annoying. 3 stars
4/12/03 Siso The movie is well worth it...keeps you on the edge of your seat for all 80 mins of it. 5 stars
4/12/03 dill hole great 5 stars
4/12/03 Connie LOVED IT...Colin was the whole shooting match for me. 5 stars
4/11/03 Nancy Boy This booth was made 4 stalkin, that's just what I'll do, so TFB it's gonna be the end of u. 4 stars
4/09/03 Atanu Farrell is the most hyped incompetent actor after penelope cruz. yet just as annoying. 1 stars
4/09/03 Jiz Farrell did good, Sutherland ruled that shit, but the movie wasn't really anything special. 4 stars
4/08/03 Vince It was pretty good i guess. 4 stars
4/08/03 Rylz One of the best films in recent years 5 stars
4/08/03 bullit17 Schumacher is forgiven for killing Batman ... almost. Great performance by Farrell. 4 stars
4/07/03 Lin Rainey I love Colin Farrell and he can act. 5 stars
4/07/03 Collin Farrell I am ashamed at how this movie turned out... I apologize to all audience members. 1 stars
4/07/03 me agood film but not the best 4 stars
4/07/03 Angolmois Basically a one-man show, but Farrell can really act. Sutherland's voice acting is super... 4 stars
4/06/03 Annette Farrell and Sutherland are great. Until this move I didn't get the hype about Farrell. 4 stars
4/06/03 Not Retarded You must be a retard if you like this PIECE OF CRAP - worst movie of the year 1 stars
4/06/03 Large Farve White-nuckled it all the way through; Wow, what a great movie 5 stars
4/06/03 John Keating outstanding thriller 5 stars
4/06/03 Yo Mama! Wow, great movie! BTW - What happened the the FUCKING Awesome rating...I liked that better 5 stars
4/05/03 nick2k damn....hecka of a good movie! more katie wouldn't have KILLED you! i hate hookers. 5 stars
4/05/03 G Incredible. I could'n get off of my seat 5 stars
4/03/03 melanie wow 5 stars
4/03/03 Lin Rainey I could look at Colin Farrell all day long. He could read the phone book to me 4 stars
4/02/03 dill hole hot 5 stars
3/30/03 macxkle3 good movie; nail-biter 4 stars
3/27/03 joe its good and yes saying "tasty" does make one a flame.... 4 stars
3/20/03 David M Rosonowski Pretty good movie. I would recommend it to anyone. 4 stars
3/19/03 Kyle Fun movie. 4 stars
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  04-Apr-2003 (R)
  DVD: 01-Feb-2005



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