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Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken

The Rating System

Kex Liked It:
It Sucked:
It Really Sucked:
It Sucked as bad as Eyes Wide Shut:

It Sucked badly enough to bring the world to the brink of apocalypse:


The Patriot
The Patriot:

Kermit the Frog, Bozo the Clown and Catherine the Great now all have 2 things in common. First, they all have the same middle name. Second, the movie The Patriot might have at least been a little fun if any of the above had appeared in it. Certainly the sight of disembodied muppet parts flying all over the screen would have been at least more entertaining in some measure than human body parts. We are now paying the cinematic price for the directorial excesses of Steven Speilberg, who has even raised the bar of film depection of the American Revolutionary War.

The American movie going public probably needed a remake of Braveheart reset in the Revolutionary War about as badly as we need another little kid from Cuba to wash up on the Florida coast. Hollywood hasn't made a lot of movies about the war for independence, and there are a lot of good reasons, which are evident if you see The Patriot.

The foremost among the myriad is that the Revolutionary war was fought before any sort of photography was invented, and there wasn't a lot of direct press reporting. Consequently, almost everything most Americans know about it is whatever they picked up when they weren't napping through middle school and high school history classes. I think that is why so many Americans hold the founding fathers in such godlike reverance. They simply haven't come to the realization that these men were not gods, they were just contemporary politicans, mostly aristocrats, who were primarily looking out for their own asses. America has become a great nation more inspite of, than because of their actions and intentions.

The most telling legacy in modern times is the second amendment to the constitution, part of the Bill of Rights which they didn't get around to writing until several years AFTER the rest of the constitution was adopted. The second amendment is probably the single crappiest piece of writing in the history of legalese, which covers some significant real estate. My theory is that the second amendment made it into the constitution precisely because of the fact it is lame ass bit of writing.

I'm guessing that the issue of gun ownership was probably already becoming a political football around the late 18th century , and the second amendment was such a clever compromise between opposing factions precisely because no one from either side of the debate could understand what the hell it said. Consequently everyone was happy.

So here we are, 21 decades later, and still no one can figure out what it means. In spite of arguments citing fictional court cases presented by both sides, no high court in the country has ever stuck their necks out to attempt to rule on what the second amendment means. Thus the debate grows more heated. My favorite people are those who try to cite the original intent of the founding fathers, and there are some on both sides. Look folks, these were men who lived 200 years ago, had no particular moral problems with the issue of slavery, looked upon women as property and figured that the only people who should vote were land owners. I really don't think that these are the best role models to use debating contemporary social issues. Okay, lets be more blunt: If you give an iota of a shit about what the founding fathers thought, you are a babbling moron.

After I saw The Patriot, I once again understand how it is that the colonials kicked the asses of the British. We did it the same way we have won every other war except that one in the 60's: Our guys can shoot the eyes out of a fly at 300 yards with a flintlock, while the Brits, or whoever we happen to be fighting, couldn't kill a chicken with a machine gun at point blank. Well, maybe that isn't good analogy. The Brits obviously have a lot of trouble killing chickens. Read the review of Chicken Run.

In the Patriot, early in the movie, we see old Mel Gibson with his two movie sons, who are about 8 and 10, wipe out a detachment of 20 British troops without so much as breaking a fingernail. Hey, lets face it, obviously all that was required to win our independence from Britian was good old Mel and an average sized third grade class. And Great Britian had the strongest army on earth in the 18th century .Hell, I'm not sure why we just didn't enlist the Boston boy's choir and just take over the entire globe. Think of all the subsequent problems it would have solved.

There are scenes in this movie of Mel running through the battlefield that are lifted so directly out of Braveheart that the folks who made that movie might have pretty good grounds for a copyright infringement suit. But if it hadn't been for the excessively gory battle scenes, there really wouldn't have been much worthwhile going on in this rather lame effort. The remainder of the movie waivered between tedious blabfests and schmaltzy tugs at the heartstrings that fell so flat that the fits of yawning in the theater occasionally threatened to buckle the screen.

Further, the producers attempted to paint sympathy for the protagonists by making the Brits so nasty that one figures their antics could have made Hitler blush. One thing was quite clear from this movie, however: If the Revolutionary War had been fought with as little genuine vigor as this movie was produced, there would be lots of people who don't read the supermarket tabloids who would actually give a rat's ass about Prince Andrew's 18th birthday.

Last Week: Planet of the Apes:

The last time I reviewed a Tim Burton movie, I noted that somebody should teach him the use of a lightbulb. I've changed my mind: The man desperately needs one of two things. Either an exorcism or a serious ass kicking.

Look, the guy did a biography of Ed Wood a few years ago, and now he seems to be possessed with Wood's schlock film making spirit. I don't know if he is directing his movies in frilly boas and pumps yet, but all bets are off after seeing the remake of Planet Of The Apes. This movie inspires a lot of questions:

* How bad did Kex hate this movie? This is the kind of film that makes you wish it would occur to you a little more often to take a supersoaker filled with kerosene and a book of matches to the theater. Then at least you could enjoy the spectre of one of Burton's dimly lit productions being adequately lit up on the screen.

* Did the original really need to be remade? No. We've covered the topic of remakes before. Yeah, the costumes were a little better. But the story was inferior and there wasn't much going on here that improved, or even lived up to the first effort. Worse still, the original inspired a plethora of increasingly lamer sequels ( Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Rambo on the Planet of the Apes etc) that pulled the original down into the toilet. One can only imagine how dreadful the sequels we are pondering here are going to be.

* Mark Walburg? Yup. And how bad does a movie suck when we can admit without real reservation that he was the best thing in it? Does anybody think the world would have ever heard of this guy if his brother hadn't had his 10 minutes as part of the lamest contrived pop music sensation of the 20th century?

* What was that sexual tension between Walburg and the lead lady ape all about? I told you that Burton is getting weird these days. For all his well noted perversions, even Wood never fell into the realms of beastiality. What is really strange is that Wallberg had a perfectly attractive silicon enhanced female lead to fall for, and instead he gets an icky, perverse attraction going with a monkey. And people still wonder why I hated this film?

* What was that ending all about? Beats me...WARNING! PLOT SPOILER FOLLOWS! So Walburg escapes the ape planet (not earth) and returns to earth, where he discovers by viewing a statue of Apebraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial that apes have taken over here too. He is then set upon by ape police. How did that happen? Who the hell knows? Myabe they'll explain it in the sequel, not that any of us want to see it.

* How do stupid human females get silicon implants on an ape dominated planet? Oh behave!

* It looks like all the 60's and 70's TV shows have been done. Now they are starting on remaking the movies...Apes, Rollerball...what's next? Who cares? But its all in line with the current cultural trends. When was the last time you turned on a pop FM station and heard a song that wasn't a crappy remake of something 20 years old?

* Do you really think there will be a sequel? Hey, an actor in "Apes" costume threw out the first pitch at the Dodger game this weekend. What do you think? The fact that this project got greenlighted in the first place proves that this IS the Planet of the Apes.

Last Week: The Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood:

There were actually a couple of pretty good reasons why I decided to see this movie over the week's only other major release, which was Bad Company. The most significant one is that 99.99% of the film critics in the country are already blasting Bad Compay at least as harshly as I'd have been inclined to do so, which made it a pointless exercise. If you want to see just how brutally that movie is being reviewed, just take this challenge: Start looking over all the posted reviews on the web, and see how long it takes before you can find even one reviewer who resisted the temptation to note that Bad Company should have been entitled Bad Movie.

Then there is the annoying little fact that I must acknowledge that I'm not getting any younger, and seeing movies like Ya-Ya Sisterhood seems like a good way to start trying to get into heaven. Of course, its just in case there is one and that there is still an ice cubes chance in hell I could still qualify in the few decades I have left to recoup my opportunites.

Finally, there was sort of a trade involved. My current movie viewing partner suggested that attending Scooby Doo next week would be at least marginally palatable if I could see my way clear to checking out Ya-Ya Sisterhood this week. Well, the proposed quid pro quo wasn't exactly that simple. I think the conversation involved a threatening elevated frying pan. Its a little hard to recall exactly, but somehow it was made clear to me that the exchange was favorable.

I hate to resort to tossing around labels like "chick flick," but one glance around me at the audience made it pretty clear that this film had a rather specific appeal. Out of the 300 seats in the theater, 296 of them were occupied by women, 2 by fellow men and one was empty. I sort of think that one would have been occupied by a man too, but I suspect he ditched his lady friend at the last critical moment and ducked into Star Wars Episode 2.

I'm telling you folks: There was so much estrogen waifting around the atmosphere of the auditorium by the end of the film that I thought I was going to have a period. This movie starred a bunch of women, it was written by a female screenwriter, based on a novel by a woman. It had a female director, female producers and most of the names listed in the crew were women. I didn't look close, but I'm guessing that a credit was given to whoever passed out the Midol. If women really want to demonstrate that old claim that the world would be better off if they ran it, they didn't come close to offering any proof with this as a demonstration piece.

I'm not sure why Hollywood hasn't figured this out yet, but no movie that has ever been made, and no movie that ever will be made has, or will benefit by casting Sandra Bullock in the lead role. This is the second time since I've been doing these reviews that I've seen Bullock portraying a script writer who can apparently make a passable living without ever writing anything. Her character always seems to be able to leave her work for indefinite periods of time with no professional consequences. But the role she happens to play is beside the point. The women has an annoying habit of mumbling out her lines an invariably projects the impression that she is only appearing in the movie as a favor to the world. I just wonder what she is doing to continually get lead roles.

This film did offer one unique aspect to filmdom. Ashley Judd is onscreen for almost half of the film without beating the crap out of her husband. This time she reserves her fury for her children. Nonetheless, we are asked to feel sympathy for her by the end of the film. Sorry ladies, I just thought she was a bitchy, boozy, childbeater.

The only man who appears onscreen for more than about 10 minutes is James Garner, who portrays Sandra Bullocks saintly and long suffering father. His character couldn't have suffered nearly as much as Garner himself. This late in his career, he always has to consider the possibility that this may be the role for which he is ultimately remembered. I sincerly hope not, because it would be really sad to remember Garner as a p-whipped doormat.

Most of the remainder of the cast was a group of Hollywood bronze broads, led by Maggie Smith. She was actually provided most of the film's best lines, as a wise cracking hag. But there really wasn't much to be saved here. I'll admit that the film had some humorous moments, and if I absolutely had to choose between seeing this movie or either Star Wars or Spiderman again, I'd go back and see this one without reservation. Even with all the film's cattyness, there are no explosions or loud noises, which would make it more condusive to a nice two hour nap.

Okay, so I have the wrong plumbing to enjoy this movie as much as I might have, but It all seemed a little over the top to me. In Field of Dreams, all Ray Kinsela had to do to reconcile with his father was to build a baseball stadium in his cornfield and play a little catch. This movie involved kidnapping and boring stories about the Gone With The Wind premier, a World War 2 casualty, and an obsene drive down the highway on a hot Georgia night. We men are much less complicated beings. In any event, the Ya-Ya sisterhood's most devine secret is that all of their other secrets are pretty boring.

Last Week: A Classic Review: The Wizard of Oz:

You didn't really come here expecting to read a review of 2Fast 2 Furious did you? Word is that the gendarme in SoCal is already gearing up for a few weeks of additional mayhem on the freeways, as testosterone poisoned adolescents imitate the antics in the movie. I'm not sure why there is concern. Things are like that on the freeways pretty much every week down there anyway.

Or there is the new horror flick, Wrong Turn in which a group of kids who might be better off raising mayhem on the LA freeways get lost in the woods of West Virginia and are accosted by inbred mutants. That isn't terribly novel either. Its been done in Deliverance, and it doesn't even make headlines anymore when it actually happens in West Virginia.

A lot of people already know this, but try playing the tape or DVD of The Wizard of Oz. After starting the movie, pop Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon into your CD player, and after the lion roars for the 3rd time preceeding the title sequence, start the CD and turn down the TV volume.

What ensues is a rather interesting and bizzare phenomenon as the action on the screen appears to be running in close sequence with the flow of the music. Even sudden sound events on the CD appear to coincide with the action on the screen. When the CD ends for the first time, immediately start it over. The phenomen continues throughout the movie.

I have personally tried this, and I'll admit that during the first playthrough of the CD, things are a bit spooky. After that, the coordination didn't seem all that impressive to me. Maybe it was because I wasn't using controlled substances. Members of the band have been quizzed about all of this, and they categorically deny that they intended any synchronicity between the album and Wizard of Oz. I tend to believe them, although all of the coincidences are unsettling.

On the other hand, I really sort of wonder who came up with this thing in the first place. Did some bunch of drunk college kids go through every album in their collection while watching The Wizard of Oz 900 times until they came up with a reasonable match? Might not other albums, say John Denver's Greatest Hits produce a significant number of hits? I'd be curious to find out, although I'll leave the research on this one to the Kexkateers. I'm just too busy these days.

The Wizard of Oz has come under all sorts of weird scrutiny on its own. I remember a weird dissection I once heard by one of those overzealous English teachers of the story, actually from the book and not the film. Apparently, according to the analysis, Dorothy represents everyman, in search of some sort of greater happiness and beauty in life. The other characters get even more interesting.

The Scarecrow represents the American farmer, who may seem like a rube, but is actually pretty shrewd. The Tin Man is the factory worker, who is reduced to a heartless automoton by the system. The lion is reminiscent of politicians in general, and Williams Jennings Bryant in specific, who yearns to be a courageous leader, but just doesn't have it in him. The Wizard is the President of the United States, who seems great and powerful but is really just an ordinary guy. The Wicked Witch represents the savage forces of the west, ultimately overcome by the west's most precious resource, water. The Emerald City is Washington D.C.

The whole thing gets really bizzare when you toss in that Dorothy's shoes are what the WWotW covets. They were silver in the book, but ruby in the movie. Originally, they supposedly had something to do with the free coinage movement, which was a big issue around the time the L. Frank Baum was penning the story. I'm not sure how or why the wild natural forces of the west were trying to get control of the free coinage of silver, which was the story's main antagonistic line. Leave it to English teachers to stretch analysis to the breaking point of irrationality.

Basically its all just a story of a little girl, who escapes dull, drab, black and white Kansas and miraculously ends up in the beautiful, colorful land over the rainbow. Instead of experiencing an orgasmic joy that should have sent her into a state near cardiac arrest, she starts pining to go home. Her angst is apparently expressed in the near constant fluctuations in her hairlength, which changes at least a dozen times during the course of the action.

She is helped in her quest by a cast of weird characters and eventually gets back to Kansas, after offing most of Oz's population of witches. When she gets back to Kansas, she realizes that all the happiness she needs is in her back yard.

I guess that is okay if she plans on marrying one of the inbred farmhands that seem to be the sum total of her exposure to male companionship, and live out her life on a Kansas farm. If all of humanity followed a similar philosophy, we'd still be painting on cave walls and huddling around fires nightly, waiting to get picked off by sabre toothed tigers.

Last Week: King Arthur:

This film ranks as the single greatest piece of revisionist history I've encountered since, well, a couple of weeks ago. Next to the flowery tributes that rained down at the Reagan funeral, nothing in the annals of mass media history has so boldly challenged the realities of established history, even when the facts of the matter are as cloudy as the legendary tales of King Arthur.

The film opens with a note defining the accepted time frames of the Arthurian legends, noting that Arthur's status as an historical personage is still debated. Unfortunately, the credibility of the film is immediately jeopardized by placing the "accepted" time frames a couple of centuries later than I have ever heard debated. No matter. According to the film's introductary bar, the legends of Arthur actually date back several centuries earlier, as recent archeological finds indicate.

I haven't seen any real attempt to authenicate that claim, but I guess the producers are either betting that the audience will accept the statement out of hand, or they will have simply forgotten about it by the end of the film. That isn't a bad bet either, since a lot of the film is such a torturous gabathon that most of the audience never makes it to the end much above a comatose state.

All of the heros of the standard Arthurian legends are here; Young and brave Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gallahad, and the appropriately named Sir Not Appearing In This Film. Oops, that was another movie. Curiously, the film opens with a rather lengthy story about how Lancelot becomes one of Arthur's knights. According to the film, all of the legendary warriors were really decendents of the defeated Samatian cavalry soldiers, who were spared by the Roman legions under the agreement that their children and children's children would have to fight for Rome for 15 years.

I'm not entirely sure how the people of Britan are going to react to the notion that their legendary Knights of the Round Table were really effectively slave mercenaries. It'll probably go over about as well as telling Americans that Abner Doubleday didn't really invent baseball, but rather it evolved over more than a century from stick and ball games that came out of England. (Um, sorry folks, but that one is true.)

Merlin wasn't all that well represented in this tale either. Rather than being a powerful magician and loyal friend of Arthur, he was the leader of a guerilla band who conducted ruthless hit and run attacks against first the Romans, then as they pulled out, struggled to save the island from the maurading Saxons. Merlin essentially starts out as an enemy to Arthur, but later they become allies against a common foe.

Of course it doesn't hurt that Arthur (Clive Owen) gets the hots for one of Merlin's followers, Gweneviere (Kiara Knightly). She is not only attractive enough to catch Arthur's eye, but can handle a pretty mean bow and arrow too. And just to make her a true triple threat, she can accord herself pretty well in close quarter combat with a sword.

But that isn't even the most impressive part. While most of the men have armour composed of at least large coverings of leather, if not some metal, Gwen goes into battle with not much more than a couple of small leather straps covering her torsal goodies. Maybe she just cuts down the guys while they are busy catching an eyeful.

Then again, its not like Arthur is having to lead his men (and woman) against the most formidable army I've seen in movie history. The invading Saxons apparently never go into battle unless half of their men are busy beating bass drums unstead of carrying weapons. Not only does that detract significantly from their firepower, but it tends to really wipe out the element of surprise. The Saxon commanders also had some problem figuring out that conducting a battle on a frozen lake might not be the best idea around either.

Aside from some of the historic eyeraisers, there were some visual curiousities in this film as well. Falling snow never melts, and occasionally falls out of a blue, mostly cloudless sky. Battle scenes are so confusing that its impossible for the audience to tell who is who. Worst of all, the good guys don't really seem worth pulling for, and the bad guys don't raise all that much ire. In short, its kind of hard to really care whether or not Arthur ends up victorious. In fact, the only moment I felt any sort of victory had been won in this film was when the final credits started rolling, and I realized that I had survived to take on another film.

Last Week: The Wedding Crashers:

There is one way to know for certain that your movie is in really serious deep crap here at K.A.W. If the most positive memorable moment involves the main character getting his ass beat by another character that we are supposed to despise, your movie is going to get a really bad review.

Another way to guarantee that your movie will get panned is to make it at least an half hour too long. As a general rule, comedies run out of steam somewhere close the the 90 minute mark. This one ran dry a good deal earlier, but tortured us for a full two hours for no other reason than the most viscious form of cinematic sadism. I'm probably being charitable here. Thirty minutes of Owen Wilson goes an awfully long way.

John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are two apparently successful guys living in Washington D.C. who have come up with a novel approach to meeting women. They regularly crash ritzy weddings, and seduce unsuspecting and emotionally vunerable women who are caught up in the romance of the occasion. You see, the entire setup of the plot is based on the fact that single women who attend weddings are ready to go to bed instantly with the first sensative guy they meet at the event.

We might take a time out here to note that I probably hold the world's record for attending weddings as a single male. I waited an unusually long time to change my own marital status in this life, and watched just about every single guy I've known take the leap before I did. So I can establish credentials for having attended a LOT of weddings.

It simply has not been my observation or experience that the single women who attend them are any more interested in getting laid after the ceremony than women who attend, say, a hockey game. But evidently, these two guys have worked their scam down to such a science that they never fail to score. My suspension of disbelief didn't survive the first ten minutes.

Before I bag this movie too much further, or reveal any more of the plot, I think I should note something else here. There was one, and only one redeeming feature of this film. Within the first 20 minutes, we do get to see a small parade of gratitous female breasts. That is just something you don't see nearly enough of these days, especially since the damned Republicans took over everything 5 years ago. If that isn't sufficient reason to overthrow the entire establishment, I can't think of many other better ones.

John and Jeremy have had a pretty successful wedding season, and John is ready to take a break. But Jeremy wants to crash the big Washinton wedding of the year: The wedding of the Secretary of the Treasury's (Christopher Walken) daughter. They figure at this event, they will meet some really high class women, although I'm still not convinced that these two louts could find suitable partners somewhere with the class of a bowling alley.

Each of them picks out a suitable target at the party, and they just happen to be the other two daughters of the Secretary. But each encounters a serious problem. Jeremy scores with young Gloria Cleary (Isla Fischer) who turns out be be a wild, clingly nymphomaniac. Meanwhile, John completely falls for Claire Cleary (Rachel Adams), but she already has an obnoxious boyfriend. As we are well aware, rich, attractive and single young women in movies always have weasly, obnoxious boyfriends.

John and Jeremy manage to get themselves invited back to the Secretary's summer home, which is on a small island off the east coast. John is hoping to steal Claire away from her weasely boyfriend, while Jeremy is just trying to shake loose of Gloria. Meanwhile, we are introduced to the rest of the family, who are rich in the large, colorful family stereotypes we have seen in every similar movie ever made.

Not content to try, and fail just to make us laugh, the two main characters, whom we start of disliking and never warm up to, have to grow in some fashion as characters. Jeremy finds out that Gloria is the real thing, and ultimately romance blossoms. John comes to realize what a pig he has been, and tries to use his personal growth to win Claire, even after she finds out the truth about him. We end up feeling that she would have been better off without John or her boyfriend.

Watching this movie has all the appeal of navigating a mine field in the middle of a heard of elephants. We kind of know its going to be pretty unpleasant going in, and every major event is going to make things considerably worse. This movie is equally pointless, and way too loaded with major events.

Previously: the Illusionist:

Now, for my first trick, I am going to make the audience for this movie disappear. I strongly recommend that all of you wait until it comes out on DVD, then don't rent it. The Illusionist pissed me off.

There should be some sort of warning when you purchase tickets for this movie. "We are now going to make your admission money disappear." I know there is nothing I enjoy more than spending 2 hours sitting through what is more of less of a laborious blabfest just to end up being told that I am a moron. I'm sure we all appreciate that.

You know how you feel when you want to show sympathy for one of those people with signs on the street corner, so you hand them a buck? For a moment, you usually get some sort of satisfaction, at least initially. You think to yourself, "Wow, that poor guy was hungry. Now he can go get something to eat. I did a good thing." Then you see him make a mad sprint for the liquor store, and you think to yourself, "Damn! I'm a sap." So you don't give any money to people on street corners for about 5 years, even though some of them may actually use it to buy food.

I walked out of The Illusionist with exactly the same feeling. But it isn't like I didn't end up learning something from this film. Unfortunately, I just ended up learning it about 30 years too late. The important lesson provided by this movie? The hot babes love magic.

Yes, if you are a teenage boy, and you want to land yourself a hottie, don't waste the pittance slave wages McDonalds is squeezing out of their multi-billion dollar annual profits to buy cool clothes or the hottest car in town. Learn a few magic tricks. That was the key young Eisenheim who grew up to be Edward Norton used to unlock the heart of Sophie, who grew up to be Jessica Biel. Unfortunately, even his best magic tricks were never able to make her virginity disappear.

The problem was, young Eisenheim was a commoner, while Sophie was aristocracy. Affairs of that nature were frowned upon by European royals, who much preferred spreading all sorts of genetic disorders through their bloodlines via inbreeding to any of their ilk actually marrying a commoner. As a consequence, the genetic diversity in European royalty bore a strong resemblance to West Virginia.

Every time the young lovers tried to sneak off together, the authorities were always hot on their trail. As a consequence, young Eisenheim not only had to keep it in his pants, he never even had an opportunity to reach for the zipper. When the pair tried to sneak off once to often, the young lad was threatened with imprisonment. At that point, he saw the light, and went off globe trotting, and learning all sorts of cool magic.

The story then picks up some year later. Sophie is now a countess, and engaged to Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) who is secretly plotting to overthrow his father and assume the throne. Meanwhile, Eisenheim (who has now changed his name to Eisheim from whatever it was in his childhood) has become a stage magician of international fame. He has also grown a goatee. With a new name and the facial hair, Sophie no longer recognizes him as the object of her adolescent hormonal rages.

Then, one evening, she attends one of his performances, and is volunteered to participate in one of his illusions. Suddenly she recognizes him, and is anxious to consumate their teenage romance. So she begins arranging all sorts of covert rendez-vous.

But little do they know that they are still being watched, now by Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) who stands to be a high ranking official in the future Leopold empire. When news of the affair gets back to the Prince, his rage is curiously directed at Sophie. In this universe, someone of his stature would likely have quickly had Eisenheim arrested on some trumped up charge, and seperated from his noodle. But Leopold was a bit dense.

It's impossible at this point to reveal any more of the story without totally wiping out the rest of the ending. Not that this movie doesn't have it coming, but I'll make a few other comments. First of all, Paul Giamattis is apt to end up with his third consecutive Best Supporting Actor nomination. This performance was definitely stronger than the ones he gave in Sideways and Cinderella Man.

It is also notable that this movie had very much of an indie flavor, with a big budget look. The story started to drag at times, but it remained enigmatic enough to keep most of the audience from drifting into a coma. There is one other point to. Up at the top, I gave this movie a but I really kind of liked it, so I think I'll give it a instead.


Previously: Over Her Dead Body:

In the nearly ten years that I have been writing these reviews I have sat through this movie so many times that if I endure it once more, I will win a set of steak knives. I'll probably enjoy them more after I sprout breasts, which will be the second side effect of having to watch it again.

Nobody is accusing Hollywood of any significant display of originality these days, but geez: Just how many times are they really expecting us to pay to watch this same tired formula played out? If it weren't bad enough that the standard formula was exercised without a hint of variation, the film was so entirely predictable that most of the audience probably could have recited the dialogue.

Even that wasn't the movie's most glaring fault. This particular adaptation of the all too familiar story looked like a made-for-TV production released in the theaters. Maybe it is because even all the crappy cable channels rejected it and they had to recoup their investment somehow. Gee, am I proud to be one of the suckers.

This movie was so painfully mediocre that for awhile, I began to worry that people would be tripping over my dead body on the way out. The people who made it didn't even take it seriously enough to attempt to hire movie actors to fill the roles. Instead, they collected a set of supporting television stars like Eva Longoria in an attempt to carry it. Perhaps they just couldn't find any actual movie stars to sign on after they read the script. But crickey, this movie had J-Lo written all over it. It might have actually been a step up in her career.

The movie begins on Kate's (Longoria) wedding day. She is running around making life miserable for all the poor saps trying to make her wedding nice. Particularly in her bitchy sites is the man who is delivering an ice-sculpture angel. Kate flys off the handle because the angel doesn't have any wings. But as the sculptor attempts to leave, the angel falls off the back of the truck and on her and kills her.

At this point we could have all left with the satisfaction of a happy ending, but the film had it's own desire to torture us for another hour and 25 minutes. Skip ahead a year, and Kate's husband Henry (Paul Rudd) is still miserable and mourning her passage. We can't figure out why. The moment this guy realized he didn't actually have to spend a lifetime with that immasculating bitch, any half intelligent man would have ripped off his clothes and danced around like a junkie that just discovered The Fountain of Crack.

Henry's sister introduces him to a wannabe psychic Ashley (Lake Bell) in hopes that she can persuade him to get on with his life. But naturally, the two fall in love. This brings Henry out of his funk, but throws his sister into one all her own because for some reason or another that we never figure out, she didn't want Henry to get involved with Ashley.

Also bummed out by the situation is Ashley's friend Dan (Jason Biggs) who pretends to be gay so that he can stay close to Ashley. But most bummed out of all is the ghost of Kate who thinks she has been sent back to Earth to keep Henry out of Ashley's clutches. Naturally, she eventually realizes that she is here to see to it that he ends up happy.

Ashley is the only one who can see Kate, and Kate tries to make her life a living hell. She succeeds in driving Ashley away, and into the arms of Dan. But when Kate sees how miserable losing Ashely makes Dan, she begins to realize that her true purpose is to see to his happiness. Surprise! All of this leads to the reconciliation that we know is coming from the first time they meet.

As a romantic comedy, this movie fails on so many levels that it would take another dozen paragraphs just to list them. The plotline is predictable and uninspired, the acting is unremarkable and above all, we never really believe that a self-possessed bitch like Kate would ever be capable of an altruistic act. Characters can grow, but in order to do so credibly we have to suspect that some vestige of depth exists within them from the beginning. No such luck with Kate, who's one dimensionality is exceeded only by the film's plot.

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