In case that hasn't tipped you off, my gripes about The Mod Squad, a movie based on a late-sixties, early-seventies TV show that wasn't that great to begin with, should probably clue you in. I am not saying starring, because anyone who would act in this film and consider themselves a star for it is either a drunk or has an agent that's a drunk, probably the latter. I can forgive Giovanni Ribisi, on the account of the fact that he's acted in good movies (unlike Epps and Danes, who rarely even get close to a good role). He's been in Gus Van Sant and he even does a good job among the twentysomething shoot-the-actors while making them popular sitcom of Friends, where several good actors seem to go to work the bad acting out of their system (i.e. Lisa Kudrow). I maybe can forgive Dennis Farina, who is at least killed off before the movie gets really bad.
The rest of it, I hate.
Being the eternal optomist that I am, I'll have to give you a few good points. For one, it has a really nice soundtrack. For two, it's fun to pick on. The script is so bland and unoriginal that I will further investigate my theory that major movie studios are experimenting on monkeys turning out scripts for them, and anonymously email my evidence to the ACLU and ASPCA for them to lobby and handle.
The director tries to light his film like it's noir: half of it takes place in a nightclub and it shows. When I came out of the theatre my eyes hurt from the light changing so much. He also tries to act like he's Richard Donner, taking all that could have been a good scene from the Lethal Weapon saga. I can forgive him for it to, after all, he directed the cheap film Johns, and someone whose done something that bad doesn't need to be kicked when he's down.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn't show us the same courtesy.
Basically, frame one is the movie's high point and it goes down from there. Watching this movie, I understand why the Mad Bomber placed his bombs under the seats of movie theatres. Claire Danes, Omar Epps, and Giovanni Ribsi make up a mod squad (insult to our intelligence: both terms are defined at the beginning of the film) of undercover cops under the command of Dennis Farina. They stumble upon a drug conspiracy with corrupt cops (What movies was that? Take your pick.). They find love, shoot the bad guys, and act cool (they wear Ray Bans on a cop's salary). And in the end, the world is safe for democracy and even more drug dealers.
No one does a good job in the movie, no one makes the façade of cool stand up. Even the target audience won't enjoy this film. Face it, it sucks.
The film tries to be funny. It fails. It tries to be cool. It fails at that, too. It tries to be enjoyable. Strike three, you're out.
Run time: 92 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th March 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $13.3M
Distributed by: MGM
Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 4%
Fresh: 2 Rotten: 50
IMDB: 4.1 / 10
Director: Scott Silver
Starring: Claire Danes as Julie Barnes, Giovanni Ribisi as Peter Cochran, Omar Epps as Lincoln Hayes, Dennis Farina as Captain Adam Greer, Josh Brolin as Billy Waites, Steve Harris as Det. Briggs, Richard Jenkins as Det. Bob Mothershed
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