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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 Lybarger

"Not Necessarily Worth the Anytime Minutes"
3 stars

Like Cuba Gooding, Jr., Kim Bassinger is proof that Oscar glory can fade very quickly.

There’s supposed to be a curse on Oscar-winning thespians that causes their careers to tailspin shortly after they pick up their statuettes. While Sir Ben Kingsley still does great work two decades after walking off with the one he earned for starring in Gandhi, Cuba Gooding, Jr. is proof that Oscar glory can fade quickly if you waste your time and the audience’s in films like Boat Trip.

Kim Bassinger may be following in Gooding’s footsteps with Cellular. Despite the little gold man she won for L.A. Confidential, her shrill, one-note performance nearly sinks the film. To be fair, the material doesn’t do her any favors. She plays Jessica Martin, a biology teacher who manages to afford slinky, stylish dresses on an educator’s salary.

After walking her son to the bus, a gang of thugs led by a surly crew-cut sporting fellow named Ethan (an appropriately intimidating Jason Statham) kidnap her and drag her to a cobwebbed attic.

Ethan may have shattered the phone with a sledgehammer, but Jessica, ever the resourceful science teacher, manages to hot wire it and call a random phone number for help.

The recipient is a young beach bum named Ryan (Chris Evans), who has to rely on courage and ingenuity he’s never demonstrated before. Ryan has to dodge LA traffic and other obstacles of varying believability to rescue Jessica or prevent the rest of her family from harm.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan might have done well to spend more time fleshing out her character instead of thinking how to fit in some extra car chases. The storyline was written by Larry Cohen, who’s responsible for the similarly themed Phone Booth. That movie benefited from having a claustrophobic setting and a creepy voice-only performance by Kiefer Sutherland. The great outdoors doesn’t do that much for the new film.

Ryan’s wanderings begin to get a little tiresome after a while, and Bassinger gets to spend an inordinate amount of time shrieking and gasping. When Cellular aims to be a thriller, it’s hard to get invested when the leading lady is marginally convincing at best. There are some decent supporting turns by Noah Emmerich and William H. Macy as a couple of cops who take an interest in Ryan’s situation, but they and Evans often serve only to remind how miscast Bassinger is.

As a comedy, Cellular is on firmer ground. When director David R. Ellis embraces the silliness of the material instead of trying to play it straight, the laughs come rather easily. There’s a sequence in a cel phone shop that’s probably a fantasy for anyone who’s had to get equipment in a hurry, and keep an eye out for the world's least sympathetic attorney.

It’s hard to tell if Bassinger is the victim of a ill-meaning agent (what else could explain I Dreamed of Africa?) or if Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential and 8 Mile) is the only director who can elicit first-rate performances from her. Either way, the evidence of the Oscar curse is hard to dismiss.

Cellular does better when it phones in for laughs instead of thrills.

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originally posted: 09/17/04 15:34:13
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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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