Worth A Look: 35.64%
Pretty Bad: 8.91%
Total Crap: 8.91%
8 reviews, 53 user ratings
|Thomas Crown Affair, The (1999)
by Chris Parry
It must be said that this film is nowhere near the disappointment I assumed it would be when news filtered through that Brosnan and Russo were fronting a remake of the classic Steve McQueen film. Despite my trepidation, it didn't suck. At least when compared to Entrapment. But when compared to the original Thomas Crown Affair, this is a valiant, but fatally flawed effort.Firstly, on an aside, this whole uproar about Russo shaking her cans on screen at age 45 (or something) is just silliness. The Russ is in fine shape and, let's be honest, if I had the means and half a chance I'd take the Russo challenge. What is it with people that they're good to go with a near nude Sean Connery dipping his doodle in a woman about 390 years his younger, but the second a woman over 40 shows her stuff (with a guy who'd be not a year younger than her) people get all uncomfortable.
"Take Pretty Woman, replace the hooker with a madam. Presto!"
Hell, truth be told, this is about the first female character in a made-by-Hollywood film in about the last dozen years who is actually strong. A thinker. A woman in charge of her own destiny and not just a collar clutcher, a la Catherine Zeta Jones' wimpy-ass role in Entrapment.
Why bring Entrapment into the frame? Well, the two premises ain't that far apart. Rich guy breaking the law, sultry insurance investigator goes in to catch him in the act, long stares across a room, yawn, get me a cab.
But the differences are many. In Entrapment, you almost hated the unrealistic smart-ass characters. Connery looked alarmed to be appearing in such dross, which is all the odder when you realise he produced the thing. Zeta Jones, who was a much better actress back when nobody knew who she was, could not have depended more on her perfectly formed ass if she was giving lapdances to the first four rows in the cinema. And if Ving Rhames does one more "sidekick" role, I'm loading a few guns and liberating him from his agent.
Which brings us to Tommy Crown. Brosnan is every bit as smarmy as you'd require of such a character. Not a patch on McQueen back in the day, but then this is more an adaptation than a remake, so he's not required to be a carbon copy.
Russo, well I can't fault the old dear. Yes, she was shoving her boobies about at every turn, and yes, if this had been Imax the males in the crowd might have had to sit through the credits before standing up to leave, lest they embarrass themselves. And yes, Denis Leary managed to maintain enough normality to not have you harking back to his well-worn comedy routines.
Just as in Runaway Bride, the cast done good. But just as in Runaway Bride, they ain't got a whole lot to work with.
Crown Affair II is essentially an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Criminally Bored. In Crown Affair I, McQueen was well-off, even wealthy, but he wasn't Mr Billionaire. In order to reflect a wealthier time, the writers have tried to give Brosnan respectability by making him a Wall Street God. Maybe this gets you respect in some quarters, but from where I sit it leaves ol' Brossy looking quite the wanker. Not so much class, as crass. No so much gentile as purile. Okay, he's got money. And he can play golf. And he can dance. But can he use a wok? Can he hammer a nail? Does he know how to tune a Chevy? Can he throw a curveball? I say NO he can not. And as such, he is no man. He is a Dilbert done good. Hell, even his psychiatrist (an amusing Faye Dunaway giving this production her seal of approval) laughs her ass off at him. Faye knows. This guy is a pussy.
Russo, born into Ohio trailer trash and married into the high life, is also pushed forward as someone we should respect because she's loaded. P'shaw. She's got a great rack, but that don't get you around in the hood, baby.
So we've come to a stunning conclusion. This film is about rich wankers playing cat and mouse in a wealthy setting. Well lah de da. It's like Pretty Woman with the hooker removed and replaced with a madam. It's like a travel brochure with a price tag you can't afford. No matter how pretty it looks, it ultimately pisses you off.
And that's the problem here. This film looks fantastic, but it's trying to. Golf, parties, dancing, restaurants, glider planes, art, a change of clothing every single scene and nipples nipples nipples - you can't look at all this and not wish you were there, but you also wish these two would learn to actually enjoy it all and not run around flashing hundreds to cabbies and frittering a hundred g's on a golf shot.
It's like watching Donald Trump's family slide night. A boat here, a nipple there, a hairy stomach there, please, let me outta here.
Yes, there are twists in the plot. And you can see them coming about five minutes before they do. Come on people, in a fast paced film, any time a scene that's not pertinant to the plot at hand goes longer than five lines of dialogue, you can see some big twist coming up. It's not brain surgery. "Ooh, we're half an hour into the film and she's found the painting... hmm, another hour to go... do ya think maybe there's a twist coming up?"
The musical score is fantastic. Can't fault that for a second, in fact, I made a mental note to swipe the soundtrack when it comes in for review, but the swingin' 70's sounds in the film are as much a nod to the original film as they are easy on the ear.
This isn't a bad film. It's very watchable, especially compared to the usual crap we're forced to endure this time of year, but it eventually grates on any but the most starry-eyed observer. Take away the glamour and the sprawling vistas and the music and you're left with a very talented cast giving everything they've got, and a director taking easy options.
Which brings us to the inevitable comparison: original or remake? No question, the original wins hands down. Find it, rent it, watch it. McQueen goes off.And Pierce Brosnan uses a stunt ass. Wimp. At least Russo had the cahonies to show hers.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=805&reviewer=1
originally posted: 09/09/99 03:08:42