29 Palms (2002) Movie Review

You're a filmmaker with a quirky cast but no money to actually shoot your movie. What do you do?

Well, you borrow the oldest trick in the book by putting your characters in the desert, where you can pretty much shoot your movie for free!

Unfortunately these flicks are a dime a dozen as they invariably boil down to the usual gun battles over a reward of some kind and the inevitable doublecrosses that come along with this story. (Yeah, this is the kind of movie where the characters don't even have names.) Why, short of getting Jim Belushi to star in it, I couldn't think of a more predictable way to put together a movie.

The story (as it is) revolves around an undercover FBI agent (Jeremy Davies, probably the least impressive cop ever to carry a badge) who finds himself the target of a hitman (Chris O'Donnell, probably the least believable hitman ever to carry a gun) when he tries to blow the whistle on some illegal goings on at an Indian casino. He ends up on the run with a waitress (Rachael Leigh Cook, actually believable yet sadly made up to be wholly unattractive) through the desert with a nutty cop (Michael Rapaport) oddly involved in this as well.

The whole thing is a morass of stolen plot points and haphazard storytelling, punctuated by weak acting (probably the result of stars who care about as much for the film they're in as I did). It's not hard to see why the actors agreed to make the movie, giving Davies and O'Donnell a rare chance to work against type and establish themselves as broader actors beyond their usual freak/nice guy (respectively) characters. Too bad this vehicle wasn't even fit for theatrical release.

Editor's Note: Our apparently inaccurate review of 29 Palms prompted this exchange with producer Bryan Lord on August 20, 2003. Bryan's comments are in blue.

Chris- Since you're clearly not a producer and you clearly don't have clue one as to how to review a film, you should probably concentrate on other ventures in your writing career. While I don't mind criticism, I do mind when a so-called critic can't get his facts straight. FYI, Jeremy Davies wasn't the FBI agent. You might want to watch the film again.-Bryan Lord, ProducerBryan.Lord@turner.com


Your email amuses me greatly. No offense, but I won't be watching the film again. Though please do enlighten me as to what role Jeremy Davies played and if he wasn't the FBI agent on the run, who was?

We'd definitely like to ensure our facts are correct.

-Christopher Null


Why my email amuses you is puzzling only because critics in my book really don't mean much. If you had a film background and were well versed in film making, I might value your opinion. Your credibility is that of anyone who sits in their apartment and randomly makes comments about films they know nothing about. That hardly reflects or constitutes a strong knowledge and/or ability to properly review a film that you clearly don't understand. For your information, Chris O'Donell was the FBI agent and Jeremy Davies was simply the judges clerk. Not a surprise that you missed it. I hear USC film school is taking applications. You just might learn something. And don't forget, I didn't direct the film, so I'm not responsible for it's shortcomings.


Way to take accountability for your film.

I am pretty sure that O'Donnell was the hitman hired to kill Davies -- who is UNDERCOVER as a judge's clerk.

If your version is correct, then who was the hitman? (O'Donnell is credited as "the hitman" btw)


Since I optioned the script, pulled the $4 million together for the budget, hired the cast, and produced the film, I'm pretty sure Chris was the FBI agent as well as the hitman. Jeremy isn't "undercover" and is working for no one other than the judge. Do you really have the audacity to question me of all people? You really are a fucking idiot and continue to prove so with every email.


The audacity to question you -- you, the line producer of Sex Court and the producer of one of the worst films I've seen this year? Gosh, I am way out of line. Your emails are giving us all a real chuckle here. Keep 'em coming!


If I were you, I'd QUIT my day job cause an internet writer has zero credibility. Why don't you write for a real publication that people respect. You clearly wouldn't have the sense or the intelligence to get a movie made. Your comment is actually a compliment. Yes, I produced Sex Court and moved onto produce a full-length feature with a very reputable cast. I'd like to see you and a lot of people in hollywood even come close. Most people sit around and dream of making movies. I've proven myself in this business. Have you Mr. Internet Writer?


From the staff of filmcritic.com, we love everything you do, Bryan.

Thanks for making our Wednesday amusing.


The staff at Filmcritic.com can kiss my ass, Krissy!!!


29 Palms (2002) Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2002


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