Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card for 06.12.09

FSR's Weekly Report Card


Studio: Columbia

Rated: R for violence and pervasive language.

Starring: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Luis Guzman and Michael Rispoli

Directed by: Tony Scott

What it’s about: Denzel Washington is a subway dispatcher who finds himself on the business end of a hostage negotiation when a tattooed badass (John Travolta) has hijacked a subway car. The third adaptation of the 1973 novel, this time directed by Tony Scott, sets up a tense hostage film with extra moments of explosive action.

What I liked: The movie looked good, like most of Tony Scott’s films. And it had some really cool music video style editing. I mean, who would have thunk that anyone could make riding the New York subway look so cool, hip and exciting.

As with the other 87 movies that Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have made together, the chemistry is there. Washington falls into his character nicely, providing a sympathetic and relatable – yet reluctant – hero.

What I didn’t: Unfortunately, as good of a job as Washington does, he isn’t balanced very well by John Travolta. I suppose anyone’s enjoyment of this film will be directly correlated to how much they believe that Travolta can play a badass. Sure, he looks the part with the sunglasses and the neck tattoo. But his cheesy delivery and undeniably sweet voice makes him sound about as menacing as Mr. Rogers on a bad meth trip. Sure, he might be dangerous, but you just want to give him a hug.

We’ve seen a lot of this film before, and I’m not just talking about the previous two incarnations of the story. It’s a standard hostage/action film with nothing new to offer. A lot of the rather mundane storyline is glossed over with Scott’s fancy cutting and completely inappropriate slam-titles of how long is left before someone gets killed.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone dying for another re-teaming of Denzel Washington and Tony Scott.

Grade: C


Studio: Paramount

Rated: PG for some mild language and brief questionable behavior.

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Yara Shahidi, Nicole Ari Parker and Ronny Cox

Directed by: Karey Kirkpatrick

What it’s about: Eddie Murphy plays an investment advisor who discovers that his estranged daughter’s imaginary friends have an uncanny ability to predict the viability of stocks. He uses these odd predictions to bolster his position in his firm, at the same time swerving into a relationship with his daughter. However, when a big promotion conflicts with his daughter’s choral performance, he must make a choice between work and family.

What I liked: The movie was in focus.

What I didn’t: Imagine That is a perfect example of how not to make a kids’ movie. First, the movie isn’t about a kid. It’s about Eddie Murphy. The daughter takes a far back seat to Murphy, only showing up occasionally in the first 45 minutes of the film. The near hour of set-up for Murphy’s character and his internal stock trading is just plain boring to adults. I can’t imagine how boring it is for a child.

Second, the film’s theme seems to be that the ends justify the means. Murphy’s character operates out of pure self-interest by using his daughter for her imaginary friends’ advice. It’s only by accident that he gets closer to her, and it’s ambiguous whether he actually does get closer to her. In the end, when there’s a moment of bonding, even then he takes center stage and steals the spotlight from the girl.

Finally, the movie is just plain stupid. It casts Thomas Haden Church as an American Indian, and all he does is grow his hair long, dye it black and literally wear a feather in his cap. Investors drop stocks because they receive a message that the company will have poop in its pants. There movie’s about imaginary princesses making stock predictions for crying out loud. Sure, this isn’t Norbit bad, but that doesn’t make it good.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want to kill themselves.

Grade: D

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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