On the Line

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 12/15/01 22:28:36

"Suckage like this is seldom seen outside of 'pay by the hour' hotel rooms."
1 stars (Total Crap)

I should admit something straight from the outset, here. I didn't get to see On The Line all the way through. About ten minutes from the end, the image on the screen froze, then proceeded to melt. I suspect that someone in the projection booth was receiving my thoughts via psychic means, and decided that yes, someone indeed should burn this film. Of the four other people in the cinema at the time, none of them asked for a refund when the film stopped prematurely. In fact, they shot through like they had white lightning crackling at their ass. I was smarter than them. I acted like I was really disappointed and got a free double pass from the manager, though I have to admit that convincing a theater manager I was really annoyed at having missed the end of 'the N'Sync movie' was the toughest act I've ever attempted.

On The Line is a great example of what rock stars just don't get about filmmaking. In fact, half of Hollywood doesn't get it either. This undeniable fact is, you can't put someone, especially someone already in the midst of their fifteen minutes of fame, into a movie and expect people to just believe it will be good. Or even not bad. We're not as dumb as we seem, and when we see a movie starring Methodman and Redman, or Mariah Carey, or Snoop Dogg, or even LL Cool J, we know it's going to stink. We know not to go. We know, no matter how good they might be in a recording studio, that when they have to look into a camera and convince us they're someone they're not, they'll fail. They'll stink. They'll suck ass. And time and again they prove us right.

And then there's On The Line.

We all know that N'Sync is past their prime, and that the 11 yr olds who made them huge in the first place have moved on to this season's latest fad. Sadly, or perhaps hilariously, Hollywood took a while to catch on, and thought it'd be a great idea to let Lance Bass produce a movie where he plays the romantic lead. I've half a notion that if his N'Sync roomie, Joey Fatone, had asked to direct, the job would've been his without question. As it is, The Fat-One settled for a role as Lance's farting co-star. Big stretch.

So Lance is on the train obsessing about how he once didn't ask some girl to the prom (because lord knows we all obsess about the people we didn't go to the prom with, five years later), when he meets an attractive gal who obsessively compulsively folds paper planes.

When I say 'meets', I'm actually saying 'is hit on by'.

Of course, she's 'the one', because she knows all the Presidents, just like Lance "big-mouthed" Bass does, but because he's a tard-boy, he lets her go without asking to see her again. This is kind of like walking through the old Times Square, having some toothless whore say "fi' dollahs" and wondering to yourself, "hmmm.. I wonder if she'd sleep with me..."

OF COURSE SHE WOULD! Train Girl couldn't be any more obvious if she'd straddled a damn subway-car pole, slid down it crotch first and shot ping pong balls at him from her na-na-noo-noo. But Lance 'misses the train' (chortle chortle), and thus begins one long-ass, ridiculous, stretched out, bad music-backed quest to find the girl.

He puts posters up on light poles all over town and, as if this is some ultra-romantic-never-been-done-before plan, the press picks up on the story and everyone in Chicago suddenly wants to be Lance's date. Of course, the fact that every single personals and classified section of every single newspaper and magazine, small, medium and large, has ads just like Lance's poster seems to have escaped the writers. In fact, his poster is so awful ("we met on the L, we talked about Presidents, I'm Kevin, here's my number..." - real romantic) it's a wonder anyone calls him at all, other than to sell him long distance plans.

I could list a hundred and eight things that are wrong with this film without getting out of the first reel, but there's really no need to go beyond the film's star. Or rather, attempted star. Lance Bass emotes with all the conviction of your average coma patient. Someone really needs to check this white boy's pulse. He's probably the one single male in the entire united States of America that could date Britney Spears for a year or two and have me believe that yes, she really is a virgin. I doubt this kid can brush his hair without his eyes crossing.

Joey Fatone (who could not possibly have lived up to his name any more completely if he were called Joey TalentlessFatBoob), plays one of Lance's buddies. I can't believe this guy has groupies. The King Of Queens could out-sexy this big mook. He looks like he should be sitting in a football stadium in Oakland, with his shirt off, with the letter D painted on his fat gut, while his friends wear the O, A, K, L, A and N, sitting next to him. Perhaps he can act (he certainly looked better next to a stiff like Bass), but he sure wasn't going to prove it with this tired script.

Emmanuel Chriqui plays "the girl". And she's fair, though in this company, she comes across like a teenage Olivier. In fact, if Steven Seagal had acted opposite Fishface Bass, you could inscribe his name on the Oscar right now. Lance is just that bad that he'll make anyone else look like a genius.

Anyone, that is, except Dave Foley, who for some reason manages to out-suck even Bass. Foley is a genuinely funny comedic actor with a long record of being the best thing in anything he appears in, but in On The Line he tries for a fey wheatgrass-sipping corporate boob that just comes across continually unfunny, and often even painful. To see a great talent like Foley even in crap like this hurts my sensibilites, but to see him completely wasted in it... well, suffice it to say we moved rom disappointment to anger rather swiftly.

But there are funny moments in On The Line. Pretty much every piece of serious dialogue is unintentionally hilarious. Most funny of all is when The Fat One tries to tell us how he's doing it "for the music" and how rock stars are all fake. Yeah. Try that one again when you've learned to PLAY A BLOODY INSTRUMENT you unplugged guitar playing motherfucker.

I apologize for the swearing in this review. It's really not very mature, and not likely to have many people asking me to replace Roeper in the big seat next to Ebert. But you know what? Fuck it. Fuck Lance Bass. Fuck N'Sync and their ideas that they can buy themselves careers as movie stars. Fuck Hollywood, the inhabitants of which think that it's cool to spend fifteen million on crap like this, when fifteen good filmmakers could have used a million each to finance screenplays that weren't written in one afternoon, and films that aren't covered head to toe in brazen product placements. Fuck everyone involved for putting Dave Foley in the worst role of his career. Fuck them for making Jerry Stiller revert to lines as done to death as "I haven't had a decent bowel movement since the Reagan administration." And fuck me for wasting ninety minutes of my life watching it. If not for the fact that I got to watch the print burn on the screen, I may have wept for the waste hours of my life.

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