Dr. Blurbenstein, I presume?

(Originally published on September 28, 1994  in The Gleaner of Rutgers University-Camden.)

Being Human


This karmic drama stars Robin Williams as five men in five diffferent time periods, all cosmically connected. All are struggling to find happiness; all are failing. We follow each character through the ages via an omnipresent narrator (Theresa Russell).

There are many problems concerning this movie, perhaps too many to mention. We’ll try to cover as many as we can in the short space we have. The film, if it needs to be classified, is sort of a cross between Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire; in each of those films Williams needs to win back the love of his kids. In Being Human, Williams is forever trying to win love lost and love never gained.

The primary crime committed by this heinous shadow of entertainment is the writing, or lack thereof. Writer-director Bill Forsyth has created a script which is neither funny nor sad, which has few action scenes and no room for pathos or compassion. None of the five mini-stories ends satisfactorily; in fact, we know less about Williams’ characters than when we first met him! Additionally, there are several contrived scenes, and illogic reigns supreme.

Williams, who usually is believable in any movie, seems miscast; however, it should be noted that his mere presence in this waste of celluloid raises its rating by a half-star. He provides effortless charisma, when permitted by the compact script. Unfortunately, he is not allowed to be funny at all, which is his primary talent!

There is little reason to recommend this film; you could watch it for Williams or because you are a true masochist at heart. As for the supporting cast, John Turturro is off-kilter as a Greek who owns slave Williams; Lorraine Bracco is quickly glimpsed as Williams’ modern-day girlfriend; and Hector Elizondo is fine as a pioneering priest. Skip it unless it’s two-for-one night at the video store.

The Snapper


This quirky little British comedy was a pleasant surprise this year. It centers on the problems a 20-year-old unwed girl experiences when she learns she’s pregnant — and won’t divulge the father’s name to anyone, including her befuddled father (Colm Meaney of Star Trek: The Next Generation)!Tina Kellegher plays the unfortunate girl, who steadfastly tries to hold back with any full explanations, until the incident snowballs into a neighborhood-wide situation, with most of the people siding against her and her father becoming bloodied due to his defense of her.

This is a sweet, delightful film; full of laughs and excellent one-liners. Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liasons, The Grifters) once again exercises deft direction and a good eye for detail.


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