Steven Reuther

Steven Reuther

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The Ugly Truth Review


Weak
It may be the nature of romantic comedies to be predictable, but this movie never departs from the formula at all. And while the cast is watchable, the film simply has nothing original to say.

Abby (Heigl) is a frazzled breakfast TV producer in Northern California, annoyed when the brutish Mike (Butler) is hired to present a male perspective on her show alongside smiling/strained hosts Larry and Georgia (Higgins and Hines). Mike's theory that men are only interested in looks enrages Abby, who is trying to woo a handsome, successful guy (Winter). Even though she's a complete control freak, she agrees to let Mike help her get her man.

Fortunately, the cast is charming and sometimes even funny. Heigl and Butler could do these roles in their sleep, oozing sass while cutely prickling against each other. Both of them are endearing, in a simplistic sort of way, throwing out witty one-liners and indulging in corny banter that implies the chemistry that is completely absent from the film. Much more fun are Higgins and Hines in small scene-stealing roles that are full of eye-rolling innuendo.

For a film about a strong woman, Abby is awfully needy and desperate. All she can think about is finding the perfect man, and we seem to be the only ones who realise that Mike is the only man the script has in mind for her. Meanwhile, for all his macho posturing and chauvinist comments, he's actually a sensitive soul who understands how men and woman connect. In other words, for all of its bluster, the film isn't remotely as edgy as it pretends to be.

All of the script's male-female sparring uses stereotypes and contrived situations to push the romance forward, from the Cyrano-like coaching to the unsophisticated (and unoriginal) vibrator gag. There are no subplots and no subtext at all. Even the sexuality is simplistic: it's just puritanical sniggering. And by the time the film finally addresses something resonant, wondering who could actually love a control freak, the contrived story and shallow approach leave us cold. But since this is a rom-com with likeable stars, that doesn't really matter.

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind Review


Very Good
'Tis the season for pillorying the TV stars of yesteryear. After Bob Crane got his comeuppance in Auto Focus, George Clooney takes the director's chair for the first time to bring us Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the "unauthorized autobiography" of Chuck Barris, the man responsible for some of the most enduring and trashiest TV shows ever, including The Dating Game and The Gong Show.

Sam Rockwell (best known for show-stealing turns in Charlie's Angels and Galaxy Quest) makes for an engaging and wildly funny doppelganger for Barris, owning the character so completely it's hard to tell where the source material ends and Rockwell's interpretation picks up. With Barris appearing in almost every scene, the film takes us down his road from TV-producer wannabe to master of the 1970s game show. Oh, and not to mention, a stint as a freelance assassin for the CIA.

Continue reading: Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind Review

Man Of The House Review


Weak
Some films are so bad they bring shame even to the lowly reviewer who sits through them to make a lousy nickel. Man of the House is almost, but not quite, that bad.

The premise: Tommy Lee Jones plays a Texas Ranger who goes undercover in a girls' sorority house to protect five cheerleaders who have witnessed a murder -- is about as bad a concept as has ever been approved by a studio (at least until the Deuce Bigalow sequel comes out). But a funny thing about this film (about the only funny thing) is that the actors seem to be enjoying themselves -- especially Jones, whose droll, dry persona makes this film, if not a hoot, at least not a total travesty.

Continue reading: Man Of The House Review

Pay It Forward Review


Good
The very idea behind Pay It Forward -- that when someone does an enormous good deed for you should pay it "forward" to three other, unsuspecting persons -- requires what is described in the film as "an extreme act of faith in the goodness of people."

It's safe to say that your enjoyment of the film is bound by this same rule. Dyed-in-the-wool film critics like myself have been down this road once or twice before, and the enormous leap of faith it takes to convince oneself that, deep down, even "bad" people are good makes me want to reach for my DVD of A Clockwork Orange.

Continue reading: Pay It Forward Review

Sommersby Review


Good
Relatively weak popcorn drama, about a man who comes back from the Civil War to reclaim his place at his plantation, only he's not the hero everyone thinks he is. Remake of a French film.

Pretty Woman Review


Excellent
Every cliché has at least one perfect example: An "Exhibit A" that makes the hidden good side of the cliché come to light and makes the jaded tired old story new again. For the tale of the hooker with the heart of gold, the perfect example is Petty Woman.

You have a dapper, somewhat older wealthy man (Richard Gere), a surprisingly attractive prostitute (Julia Roberts), a toadie type (Jason Alexander) bent on breaking up the high roller and the ho, and the kindly gent (Hector Elizondo) who teaches the trailer trash how to hang with the upper crust.

Continue reading: Pretty Woman Review

Collateral Damage Review


Bad
I'm not one for Septemeber 11 censorship. You know what I mean, where the big, loving movie studios protect us from facing the grief and loss of that stupendous tragedy by erasing every trace of its existence from movies, television, and print. Collateral Damage, Schwarzenegger's latest, was one of the biggest victims of this recently popular sentiment. The release date was pushed back months amid rumors of revisionist editing to make the film friendlier to today's environment. Having seen Collateral Damage, I now understand why.

Collateral Damage stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rough 'n' tough fireman, whose family is murdered in a bombing by notorious Columbian terrorist "The Wolf." Confronted with the inability and unwillingness of the U.S. government to seek justice, our fireman hero decides to take matters into his own hands and heads to Columbia to seek revenge. In one sense, this film is almost uniquely appropriate to the world's post-9/11 environment, presenting as it does such a larger than life hero, who just so happens to be a fireman, a group we are all looking to these days as real-life heroes. Yet, on the other hand, Collateral Damage is clearly the product of a different era. Blatantly and painfully pointing out our pre-9/11 ignorance, never has America's innocence been shown so clearly and by such a poorly made movie.

Continue reading: Collateral Damage Review

Steven Reuther

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Steven Reuther Movies

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind Movie Review

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind Movie Review

'Tis the season for pillorying the TV stars of yesteryear. After Bob Crane got...

Man of the House Movie Review

Man of the House Movie Review

Some films are so bad they bring shame even to the lowly reviewer who sits...

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Pay It Forward Movie Review

Pay It Forward Movie Review

The very idea behind Pay It Forward -- that when someone does an enormous good...

Collateral Damage Movie Review

Collateral Damage Movie Review

I'm not one for Septemeber 11 censorship. You know what I mean, where the...

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