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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 Chris Parry

"My name is Colin Farrell. And this is the longest day of my life."
4 stars

If you look back over cinema history, it's the simplest movie premises that inevitably have an audience saying, "I can't wait for that flick to come out." Huge shark terrorizes beach; four crazy losers fight off a ghost outbreak in New York City; rebels fight back against an intergalactic empire of bad guys; unassuming archeologist battles nazis for treasure. See what I'm talking about? Add to that 'guy answers phone in phone booth and is told if he moves he'll be shot by a sniper' - this is one of those premises that has audiences chomping at the bit to buy a ticket. But will they be disappointed when they finally get in the door?

Not a chance. Produced with a tiny budget, written by 70's B-meister Larry Cohen and shot in about ten days, Phone Booth is the kind of film that would have given a rookie director immense indie cred. Like Schumacher's earlier low budget work, Tigerland, this is a film that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat while following an intelligent script and steering well clear of schlocky Batman and Robin territory.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that both films feature superstar in the making Collin Farrell prominently.

Farrell is Stu, a publicist trying to con his way up in the world. He's got a great looking wife (a woefully under-used Radha Mitchell), a good looking mistress (a doe-eyed and similarly under-scripted Katie Holmes) and the latest in a long line of unpaid interns doing his dirty work. Every day he goes to a phone booth and makes a call to his secret lover, but on this day that call is followed by another. As Stu is leaving the booth, the phone rings. He answers it, only to be told by 24's Jack Bauer (okay, it's Kiefer Sutherland, but when you watch 24 regularly, it's Jack Bauer) that if he hangs up, he will be shot dead. Tension ensues.

Phone Booth is Joel Schumacher's way of saying "you know what? I'm not an asshole. I'm not always wasteful. I've made some crap in my time, but it's not all I can make - move on." And fair enough too, the guy knows how to put a good film together and Phone Booth is proof of that.

Which is not to say that this is going to be an Oscar-winner. Far from it, in fact. Some of the choices made in the film are bogus, the ending is a bit of an eye-roller, Sutherland's voice sounds like it's all in Farrell's head, not on the telephone, and at times everything hinges on nothing more than Farrell's ability to keep spit-spraying into the phone in a convincing enough fashion. Of course, there aren't a lot of action sequence possibilities you can call on when your entire flick is located in a phone booth, so credit Schumacher for having used (and discovered, truth be told) an actor with the undeniable talent needed to pull this off.

Schumacher has admitted that he originally wanted Jim Carrey for the role, but Carrey pulled out because he didn't think he had it in him to carry this kind of flick. And he was right - not that Carrey stinks as an actor, but that it would take someone that can go three levels beyond 'great' to carry this entire film on the back of their ability to act in a 3' by 3' space. Very few could have managed this the way Farrell does, and very few would have even taken the chance at being the soul blame for the movie's potential failure.

Credit where it's due - Farrell is incredible. This drunken Irish playboy is the kind of guy that Hollywood has been finding in Australia for the last twenty years; the Mel Gibson, the Russell Crowe, the fearless tough guy who can pull off the emotive stuff if need be, then go out later that night and get in a bar brawl. Farrell may have a limited shelf-life (when you're a bad boy AND successful, the hacks line up in wait to announce your demise), but for now he's the kind of actor that can fit any role, draw any sized audience, keep the guys enthralled and the girls drooling, and all without a hint of affectation. In Phone Booth, he's not going to be doing any sector of his reputation any disservice at all, and in fact he's probably just bumped his salary up by more than the entire budget of this film.

Co-star Forest Whitaker, as the police officer trying to figure out why Farrell won't leave the phone booth, doesn't fare as well. There is a certain suspension of disbelief required throughout the film because the cops are portrayed as being dumber than a box of Texans. But if you can ignore the cliched silliness that comes from Whitaker's character and those around him, you're past the biggest hurdle to having a good time with this film.

Phone Booth is not rocket science. In fact, it's a popcorn movie, but it's a popcorn movie of rare quality. This is a movie that anyone can enjoy, from arthouse film freak to fratboy bonehead to anyone in between. That it cost so little, was made so quickly and will appeal to so many makes it a lesson Hollywood could do with learning.

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originally posted: 04/03/03 07:15:53
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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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