Scott Rosenberg

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Con Air Review


Excellent
It wasn't necessarily obvious (or even possible to know) at the time of its 1997 release, but Jerry Bruckheimer's Con Air would represent his finest hour. Bruckheimer isn't the director, of course, but rather the rare movie producer who would claim possessive credit on almost any of his projects. Bruckheimer branches into cheesy thrillers, cheesy inspirational dramas, cheesy inspirational sports dramas, and cheesy television procedurals, but Con Air finds the super-producer munching on his bread and butter: a loaf of action movie, with melted cheese on top.

Not only that, but it's assembled using all of Bruckheimer's tried and tested techniques: Mix movie stars and indie heroes into an eclectic, slumming cast and have them act in a ludicrously high-concept scenario. (Here it is: The worst criminals in the country team up to hijack their prison transport plane! And it's up to one man to stop them!) Then spend lots of money but indulge in a cynical jokiness, and hire a director who will shoot the whole thing like it's a music video or a commercial (preferably for itself).

Continue reading: Con Air Review

Kangaroo Jack Review


Weak
An Australian tall tale dating back to 1903 (according to the Internet, and the Internet would never lie) relates the escapades of the "Gucci Kangaroo" a mischievous marsupial that robs foreigners of hats, sunglasses, or jackets. The story tells of hapless travelers, inexperienced in the wild ways of the outback, unwittingly running down a kangaroo while driving in the land Down Under. Believing that the carcass of a dead animal is the perfect addition to any travel photo, these tourists dress up the pouchy beast with an assortment of gear. But the animal has only been stunned and, bursting to life, it makes off with the items.

Somehow inspired by this bit of Australian folklore, Jerry Bruckheimer and a posse of conspirators (notably director David McNally, famous for the boobs and booze epic Coyote Ugly) decided to turn this story into a by-the-book chase movie. While Kangaroo Jack does deliver the fart jokes, bumps on the head, and anthropomorphized CGI animals necessary to keep kids interested, it never really delivers quality laughs or whimsy. It borrows watered-down versions of car chases, airplane chases, jeep chases, and gunplay from other Bruckheimer fare such as Con Air and Gone in 60 Seconds, that seem more played out than exciting.

Continue reading: Kangaroo Jack Review

Highway Review


OK
Er, what?

This Gen-X road trip has an interesting performance from the always-engaging Jared Leto, plus small and hilarious turns from the likes of Jeremy Piven, but overall this film is a nonsensical dud. Ostensibly, it's about a run to Seattle brought on when Leto's Jack gets caught in bed with a mobster's woman. Of course, the mobsters give chase.

Continue reading: Highway Review

Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead Review


OK
The way I see it, any film starring Christopher Walken as a quadriplegic gangster has to have something going for it. And while Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead has something, I'm not quite sure what that is.

Just you're typical gangster/melodrama/black comedy/romance flick, Things To Do... is a stylish story about a few days in the life of Jimmy the Saint (Andy Garcia). Jimmy plays a mobster-gone-good whose attempt at legitimacy is a business known as "Afterlife Advice," where terminally ill clients can videotape future advice for their loved ones.

Continue reading: Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead Review

Beautiful Girls Review


Excellent
With a cryptic title like Beautiful Girls, one starts to wonder to whom this film is being marketed. Is it the frat boy model-ogling crowd? Is it a self-help flick for teenage girls? Is it soft porn? The answer, of course, is none of these: Beautiful Girls is a date movie, and quite a good one at that.

Something like The Big Chill meets Generation X, Beautiful Girls is one of those ensemble character movies that really defies description in terms of plot points. The ostensible main character is Willie (Timothy Hutton), who is ambivalent about girlfriend Tracy (Annabeth Gish) so heads back home to Knight's Ridge, Massachusetts to sort things out during his 10-year high school reunion. Here, he hooks up with old pals Tommy (Matt Dillon) and Paul (Michael Rapaport), each of whom is also flailing helplessly in his own romantic mess.

Continue reading: Beautiful Girls Review

Con Air Review


Weak
It's appalling to see good actors (John Malkovich, John Cusack) make utter fools of themselves. This is undoubtedly the worst film of both their careers. Nic Cage may not be at bottom here, but his performance is embarassing to the point of making you want to vomit. Steve Buscemi's smiling serial killer redeems the film somewhat, but how much fun can you have in a film that's about convicts skyjacking a plane and landing it a few times here and there as they try to escape the law. First in a line of junk movies from director Simon West.
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Scott Rosenberg Movies

Kangaroo Jack Movie Review

Kangaroo Jack Movie Review

An Australian tall tale dating back to 1903 (according to the Internet, and the Internet...

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Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead Movie Review

Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead Movie Review

The way I see it, any film starring Christopher Walken as a quadriplegic gangster has...

Beautiful Girls Movie Review

Beautiful Girls Movie Review

With a cryptic title like Beautiful Girls, one starts to wonder to whom this film...

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