I'm a fan of John Cusack's work. In fact when I saw Say Anything for the first time it actually inspired me to become an actor. For whatever reason the guy speaks to me.
Which is why it's so disappointing to see his work lately. He's obviously a talented guy, but there doesn't seem to be any kind of pattern or plan in the way he chooses material. I mean watching movies like America's Sweethearts was painful for me.
Anyone want to watch Serendipity or Must love Dogs?
I mean obviously the guy wants to make some money....... but man this is ridiculous.
What the hell happened to the guy who made The Grifters, Being John Malkovich, or even High Fidelity?
I have to admit I had a tiny bit of hope when I saw the publicity for this film. For one thing it wasn't a freaking pg-13 romantic comedy, and there is a gun on the poster. Which means there might be some action and it's not a boring ass chick flick. Under closer inspection I also noticed the script was written by Robert Benton of Bonnie and Clyde fame, and Richard Russo (Empire Falls, Nobody's Fool). What also perked my interest was that it was directed by Harold Ramis. Which would lead me to believe that there was some comic potential.
Unfortunately that wasn't the case.
The script in it's present form is a wanna be comic noir thriller. John Cusack plays Charlie Arglist, a lawyer for the mob, who with the help of Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thornton) steals money from his mob boss. We don't see how it goes down, for some reason the action and the con happens before the film starts. Basically the plot of the film is about trying to stay calm, and not make any mistakes, or raise suspicion before they both can get the fuck out of Dodge. Obviously things don't' turn out as planned, and Charlie has to improvise to try and escape before it's too late.
The biggest problem I had with the film is that it's just not funny. I'm not sure who dropped the ball here. I mean Ramis and Cusack have the ability to be really hilarious. But something just doesn't click here. It almost makes me think that the script started as standard film noir, and the powers that be tried to make it into a crime comedy when the script really didn't support it. Like maybe some studio head wanted to make it more like a Tarantino film. We all know that there's not many movies out there like that.....right?
In any case the film is not a total loss, there are a couple of suspenseful sequences. Like a fun bit with a body in a steel trunk on a old wooden dock over an icy lake. But a lot of the movie just drags as we get some back story on Charlie's family life. Kind of standard boring family strife and wishing for a better life stuff.
As far as performances Cusack plays the straight man to Oliver Platt's drunken friend bit. Connie Nielson turns in her usual solid performance, and easy on the eyes appearance. Billy Bob is solid in what little he's in. Randy Quaid shows up in a menacing turn. All serviceable and solid work.
But basically the film just blends into the forgettable movie pile. We all know that's a big ass pile of movies. It's mildly entertaining for an hour and a half, maybe a couple of chuckles, couple of interesting sequences, not too boring, but also nothing impressive yet not especially awful.
I guess if someone is really in a bind, and there's nothing left on the video wall, and they don't want to check out the classic or foreign film section this is there movie. At least one has the chance to see the glimmer of potential that John Cusack still has to do good interesting work.
It's now available on DVD.
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