Archive for the ‘Maverick’ Category

Son of 1995 blurbs

January 15, 2007

(Originally published spring 1995 in The Gleaner of Rutgers University-Camden.)

Airheads: This could have been a fun one. Three dimwitted metalheads are desperate to have their demo tape played on the radio, so they take over a station armed with toy guns and a lot of cahones. This plays out like Wayne’s World meets Dog Day Afternoon, although any resemblance to those two superior movies ends there. Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler star, with support from Michael McKean, Joe Mantegna, Chris Farley, Ernie Hudson and Michael Richards. *1/2

Baby’s Day Out: Another comedy from John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), who seems to be returning to the Home Alone well. Baby Bink has been kidnapped, and somehow eludes his captors long enough to wander New York City untethered. Story is simple, but effects and the baby’s charm are so good, who cares? ***

Blown Away: Perhaps the only real crime perpetrated by this film was that it came out in the theatres around the same time as Speed. Jeff Bridges is a bomb-squadder in Boston; an over-the-top Tommy Lee Jones is his nemesis.. Plot is predictable, but effects are eye-popping and nearly make up for the over-acting. **1/2

The Client: The third John Grisham novel turned into a movie, about a boy who may know a crucial Mob secret, isn’t bad; although it takes several liberties with the plot. (For example, Susan Sarandon’s character was an older black woman in the book.) But overall it’s fine entertainment, with Sarandon’s endearing work and Tommy Lee Jones’ galvanizing performance major assets. Only drawback: the abrasive, shallow portrayal of the boy himself. **1/2

I Love Trouble: Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte star as competing Chicago reporters after the same breaking story. They start out at each other’s throats, but (surprise!) they fall for each other in the end. Few sparks fly between the leads, and this miscasting (plus a stilted script) sink this film. **

Maverick: Side-splitting western/comedy stars Mel Gibson as the itinerant gambler; Jodie Foster as his love interest, a bettor herself; and James Garner as the intrepid lawman keeping tabs on them both. Fantastic performances by all three charismatic leads, a hilarious script, and some excellent action scenes make this a must-see for everyone. ***1/2

North: Elijah Wood (Forever Young, The Adventures of Huck Finn) plays a boy who decides he’s had enough of his neglected parents, so he declares himself a free agent and travels the globe looking for replacements. Rob Reiner’s (This is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally…) comedy was supposed to be funny and touching, but fails miserably. Too many stereotypes and too many colorless jokes remove any potency this film may have had. Bruce Willis contributes in a hilarious minor role as, among other things, a giant bunny rabbit. **

Renaissance Man: Danny DeVito, an out-of-work ad man, is relegated to teaching slightly mentally deficient Army soldiers remedial English. Penny Marshall (Big, A League of Their Own) gives us another heartwarmer, but this one doesn’t jump into sappiness, thanks to DeVito’s personality. If only all Shakespeare was taught like this. **1/2

The Stoned Age: Terribly inferior rip-off of Dazed and Confused, with lots of loud, hard-edged music and little else. Two druggie high school pals are in search of the perfect party… among other things. Amateurish acting is supplemented by godawful script. A waste of time. **

True Lies : Watch out! Arnie’s back in the action biz again! For those of you who loathed Last Action Hero, here’s your reward! Schwarzenegger plays a super-spy for a super-secret U.S. organization who’s successfully hidden his true job from his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis)… until now. Arnold’s great as always, and James Cameron can direct an actioner like no one else, but the effects are the big attraction here. Watch a bridge get torched by missles and Arnie pilot a Harrier jet. ***1/2

Wagons East!: John Candy died while making this turkey; you’ll die watching it. And I don’t mean by laughing, either. This offensively bad comedy/western has nothing going for it; even Candy’s role careens between pathos and slapstick, and doesn’t do either emotion well. A lot of talent wasted, and hardly a fitting end to such a glorious career. *