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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.18%
Worth A Look63.64%
Average: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 9.09%

1 review, 5 user ratings

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Lies and Alibis
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by Erik Childress

"And Cons And Capers And Hitmen And Paligamy"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: What’s so bad about infidelity? Is it nothing more than just a test designed to strengthen the union between a man and a woman or at least the grip on the handcuffs or dog collars? Metaphorically on one end and literally on the other. Maybe it’s the final straw on an already disintegrating back which has shouldered years of unhappiness and regret. Let’s face it people – cheating is going to help someone out. Either it’s the man getting his pipes cleaned or the woman ending up with a lifetime of child support. Maybe two people realize they love each other that much more or they part before they can do some real emotional damage to one another. All fascinating thoughts and it would have been nice if Lies & Alibis approached dealing with such quandaries. It starts to, but delves into a standard caper film full of cons and double-crosses. And as those types of films go, it’s really not too bad.

Ray Elliott (Steve Coogan) is the CEO of one such organization that provides alibis for the adulterous. You need a phone call re-routed or a mistaken identity to be established, Ray is your man. Catering mostly to rich clients (with special discounts given to cops, teachers, etc…), Ray strictly deals with moral complexities and not actual crimes past the sixth commandment. Since he’s not doing much field work himself anymore, Ray takes to hiring Lola Davis (Rebecca Romijn), a business-savvy bombshell who is initially shocked at what Ray endorses as business but quickly fits in like an evidence-clearing glove.

One of Ray’s biggest clients, Bob Hatch (James Brolin, despicable by even philanderer standards) wants him to set up his grandson (James Marsden) on the eve of his wedding to sow his wild oats with mistress Jaime King. But when orgasmic asphyxiation goes horribly wrong (does it ever go right?), Ray must break his personal credo and fix the situation before it spins out of control. Who knew one event could bring together a Mormon assassin (Sam Elliott), one of his disconsolate wives (Selma Blair), his right hand men (Henry Rollins & Jim Cody Williams), a suspicious detective (Debi Mazar), a jealous limo driver (John Leguizamo) and another hitman who may or may not be Ray's former partner?

It’s this impressive cast that helps Lies & Alibis breeze so smoothly from social commentary to conning caper that we don’t seem to mind that its completely abandoned its initial concept. Coogan, one of the great UK exports that we’re only beginning to discover in the US, has fun with the smart-ass quips in the face of danger and keeps us interested in what he’s got next up his sleeves. Romijn, required to vamp it up to unsuccessful and occasionally laughable effect in DePalma’s Femme Fatale, pursues a more relaxed performance here and winds up more credible with a limited screen time. Elliott also thankfully has more than just a walk-on role (a la Big Lebowski or Thank You For Smoking) and is a reminder that he can hold an audience like few others.

The real credit goes to co-directors Matt Checkowski & Kurt Mattila though for briskly moving things along and providing some real flair during the final third when about eighteen different plotlines must come together. A bigger sense of gratitude goes to them for also playing fair with the audience and allowing us to become a participant in Ray’s grandiose plan rather than wait for big twists to doubleback on our expectations. There is one to speak of, but its telegraphed enough so as not to completely pull the rug out from under us. Noah Hawley’s screenplay is efficient although not entirely clever or noteworthy. So concentrated on the pieces of its caper it forgets the underlying current of the varying complications ensuing within a monogamous relationship. The obvious parallels between infidelity, paligamy and con games is too rich to ignore and its disappointing that Lies & Alibis couldn’t be more than just an elaborate equation without any real understanding of it. Nevertheless, it’s a fun, albeit bumpy ride while it lasts – just like marriage itself.

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originally posted: 06/24/06 02:08:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/22/09 art GREAT FILM! 3 stars
4/02/08 Alan Haters clearly couldn't follow this fast-moving plot. LOVED it! 5 stars
1/22/08 wendy terrible just terrible 1 stars
12/07/06 William Goss Familiar yet fun con caper, with a solid ensemble. 4 stars
6/17/06 Dooley Wilson Love it. Smart and witty. Non-Stop Ride! 5 stars
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  17-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 05-Dec-2006



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