I guess Public Enemy wasn’t correct when they said, “911 Is a Joke“.
Halle Berry is a very skilled 911 dispatcher who is good at her job, can ease any caller down, and seems to have her life on-track with her cop-boyf (Morris Chestnut). However, a call that lands the victim to be murdered, puts Halle on the side-lines as she feels as if she is not only a failure, but a person who was not able to do her job the right way. Several months later, she picks up a call from a young girl (Abigal Breslin) who has been kidnapped and trapped in a weirdo’s trunk. Halle feels as if this is her time to shine once again, and helps this young gal out in anyway she can.
Here’s a film that just never seemed to have interested me, but yet, I found myself viewing in the early days of Easter, just because I got out of The Host and felt myself less-than satisfied with what I saw. Therefore, what better way to spend the next 2 hours of my life then checking out Halle Berry, in a great ‘fro by the way, as she talks to some teenage girl about how to not get killed by this random psycho? None, I’ll tell ya! None!
Brad Anderson is a more than capable director when it comes to these types of thrillers, but this is probably his first step into the big boy, mainstream-land, and he seems to feel right at home going along with it. The premise is corny, the script is bad, and the character-development is little to nowhere to be found, but that isn’t what Anderson’s movie is all about. The guy pays more attention to the tension and the plot, rather than knocking us down with a bunch of crap we don’t care about. All we do care about is whether or not Halle Berry is going to be able to get this girl out alive, and whether or not they are ever going to be able to catch this psycho. The questions are raised very early on, and you never lose wonder as to what’s going to happen next.
That’s why this movie really surprised the hell out of me. It’s fun, quick, exciting, and the type of movie you want to see for a good time, maybe even a couple of chills that will really have you putting on some extra-pairs of clothing. There were only about 5 or 6 other peeps in the theater with me, but each and every person was either screaming, yelling, or absolutely curled-up in their seats as they watched to see what happened next. If that doesn’t show you what a successful thriller like this is supposed to do, then I have no clue just what the hell will. For me, I squirmed a couple of times and I sure as hell was very tense throughout, but the crowd loved the hell out of this, and I can’t fully blame them. That’s exactly what this type of movie is made for, and I think Anderson knows that, therefore, he has more fun with it all. Good for him.
The biggest problem I had with this movie was that as fine as it was doing just being an old-school, classic-like thriller that’s plain and ordinary, it still feels the need to change everything up and get stupid. Instead, of sticking with the whole dispatcher gimmick that made the movie work so damn well, it changes to where Halle Berry all of a sudden needs to leave her job, not perform so well anymore, and go out into the field because as we all know, the police aren’t capable of doing their jobs, especially when they’re in a Hollywood movie. Without going into spoiler-territory, the movie gets very dumb and becomes almost like a horror flick where the killer does some weird stuff and is supremely invincible whenever it seems as if he’s going to die next.
To put on top of that, the ending also gets rid of it’s “justice is what’s right” motto that seems be pretty put-upon the whole movie. Once again, not gonna get into spoiler-territory here, just know that the final-act is what brings this movie down a big-load. Sort of like me after I eat beans, 2 fiber bars, and some nice prune juice on the side. Okay, that was a bit dirty but you’re picking up what I’m throwing down. Without this final-act, the movie would have been a lot better rather than leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth. Thankfully, I washed it all down with ham, corn, and mashed potatoes. Nothing like a fancy, Easter dinner.
Even though this is material that may have some of you scratching your heads as to why the hell even Halle Berry decided to sign up for it, don’t be so surprised. In the past couple of years, Berry has starred and signed up in some real stinkers, but this is the movie that gets to show you that she’s still good, she can still act, and yes, she’s still charming. Let’s all just forget about Catwoman and move on now, shall we? Berry is mostly good in this role because she’s a very sympathetic character that you already know is a good person, but who just has such a hard job, it’s hard for her to stay close to her morals. When shit gets crazy for her, she does do the usual panic-episode that any sane person would do when they are thrown into a situation such as this, but at least she’s able to gain composure right back, and move on. For this, she’s a good character to root for and even better; Berry seems to really be on her A-game, despite a lackluster script. Still, a lot better than what we’ve seen from her lately (minus Cloud Atlas).
Abigail Breslin is the actress that will probably be known as Little Miss Sunshine forever and ever, but she shows that she can at least handle material that would be terrible in anybody else’s hands, but is slapped in her’s and done quite well. Throughout the movie, Breslin is practically in the pit of a trunk the whole time, however, she makes it work because she never seems like she’s over-doing the panic and the yelling, she’s just genuinely scared and you root for her as time goes on. Her and Berry actually create a good chemistry together, despite never actually being on-screen together. Shows you why they are more talented than some of their recent film choices may have you think otherwise. Can’t wait to see what Breslin pulls off next and can hopefully make me re-think dancing to Rick James. Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
Consensus: It’s obvious, a tad predictable, and really stupid towards the end, but The Call is surprisingly fun, tense, and exciting due to a solid director from Anderson, and good performances from the leads, Berry and Breslin.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
The only person who can get away with having a fake I.D. is J-Kwon. May be his only claim to fame in the past decade, but still, at least he can get me fake beer.
This is the story of a regular guy (Jason Bateman) who is forced to completely extreme measures to clear his name. With everything to lose after his identity is stolen, he’ll find out how crazed you can get trying to settle a bad credit score. When he does find-out, it just so happens to be one heck of a gal (Melissa McCarthy) that may be more, than his regular-self can handle.
Alright, alright, alright. I know this is a movie, I know this is a comedy, I know this is Hollywood, and most of all, I know this is the world where you can throw belief and understanding right out the door, but I can only go so far with a movie like this. The problem I had with this movie wasn’t that it wasn’t funny (more on that later), nor was it that it squandered the talents of everybody involved (more ESPECIALLY on that later), but it was that this flick did not make a lick of sense and seemed like it had no idea what it was talking about. And what it is that they are talking about here is exactly what the title is named after: identity thief, or the act of it.
Here, let me explain: in the movie, the main character gets his identity stolen by a lady that they end-up finding out, way later than they should have. What I mean by that is that in today’s day and age with credit card companies being up almost everybody’s ass when it comes to a payment about anything, the red lights should have been flashing way sooner when one of those lucky companies realized that there was some strange-ass products being bought, by this male, in a whole bunch of different states. That would have been the first wake-up call for everybody involved, but then it gets worse when the guy who is actually getting his identity stolen, goes up to the police and they say that he has to go out of his way, drive all of the way to get her, and bring back in the current state that they are in, so they can cuff her and ring her in on all of the charges. The cops tell this to the guy, even though they know what she looks like, has a phone number, and even have a home address. Maybe there is some type of law out there where the cops are apparently not allowed to arrest somebody over something like this unless local police get involved but still: I’m supposed to believe that the cops would just let this freakin’ guy drive half-across the country, just to pick-up a possibly dangerous criminal, and hopefully bring that person back, all in one piece? Ehh, ehh. I don’t think so, movie!
Right from there, I knew something was wrong with this movie but you know what? I was willing to drop all of my dis-beliefs in reality and the judicial system just for a bunch of thrills, spills, laughs, and fun, and I barely even got that. The movie seems like it would be an awesome opportunity for Bateman and McCarthy to just go to town on one another and improv their assess off, but the movie doesn’t really allow it all of that much and even worse, just isn’t funny. The jokes they throw at us are as bottom-of-the-toilet as you could come, and it’s also sort of one of those cases where every funny-moment, is in the trailer, whereas all of the dirty stuff got left out and left for us all to view and witness here. Not a good thing, especially when you have a bunch of gross stuff that happens, because you don’t have much else to offer.
That’s not to say all of the movie isn’t funny, because there are some humorous moments, there just aren’t enough to keep you fully satisfied. So, when the movie decides that it’s not trying to make your shart your pants by the laughter squirming in your bowels, it decides to force a bunch of drama down there as well, and to relatively equal effect. By that, I mean that it barely works because it just comes off way, way too uneven. It gets so bad at one-point, that there’s a character in this movie that actually breaks-down in one, long 5-minute sequence that not only seems totally out-of-place, but from a totally different movie as well. It doesn’t work, and that’s also mainly because the characters are so damn weak, that you just don’t really care all that much to begin with.
The most prime example of that has to be Melissa McCarthy’s character who starts off as a total slob-and-a-half that you don’t really like, is a bit of a sad character, but is also just bad in what she’s doing. Things start off bad for her once you realize that she’s taking somebody’s identity, making it her own, and basically costing that person thousands-upon-thousands of dollars, but it just gets worse as she’s caught and barely shows any signs of saying sorry. She just seems like she wants to get away from it all and hopefully continue to go down that path where nobody knows, and she doesn’t care. Yeah, this is the total babe that I would love to spend an-hour-and-a-half with, especially when she’s played by somebody as likable as McCarthy, and to be honest: that’s the only thing saving her and this movie from total damnation.
McCarthy, as we all know, is hilarious and can get a laugh out of anything because she puts her body on the line, non-stop in every scene she shows-up in. She’s like the female Chris Farley, without all of the heroin and fucked-up back-stage stories. Even when the script seems to fall-apart and call on her to be funny, she does so and it was always a joy to see since you rarely see that in many comediennes nowadays (and still be successful with it, as well). Heck, it’s also a huge surprise that McCarthy nails the dramatic-aspects of her character so damn well too, but the problem is, that her character just isn’t likable enough and the back-story she’s given, just isn’t all that interesting. Does it make sense? Yeah, but does it add an extra-layer that really has us sympathize with this gal and make us realize why she would go to the lengths to steal somebody’s I.D.? Nope, it actually seems very shallow of her and definitely a “ring-ring” moment that makes you just want to say, “Well, why don’t you go out and be sociable with people instead?”.
I may be thinking too hard about this movie or this character for that matter, but I don’t think I am. When you have a movie that relies so heavily on it’s drama and it’s character’s dilemmas that they go through on a daily-basis, then I think it should be complained about and shouldn’t just be taken in as, “Oh, it’s okay. It’s funny and stupid.” You could say that about a lot of movies (especially the ones that just came out last month), but this movie is not one of those I speak of. This one tries to have it’s cake and eat it too, and just like the women I date: Gator don’t play no shit.
The same thing I’m saying about McCarthy’s character, can’t really be said about Bateman’s, either though what I said about McCarthy herself, can be said about Bateman as well. Bateman has wonderful comedic-timing and actually had me laughing a good couple of times throughout this whole movie, but even he seems to be slumming it down during this one, as if it’s to show that even he knows this material is beneath him. It obviously didn’t matter all that much since he obviously seemed happy to be working with McCarthy and together, they both show the fun and excitement it must have been to work together, but as a whole, they can’t add this flick up to much. Oh well, at least Arrested Development‘s coming back and I have Netflix. Woo-hoo!
Everybody else in this cast seem to be as bored as Bateman, and some I was just sad to see. Robert Patrick always likes to play the bad-guy types no matter what it is that he does, but him and Amanda Peet were probably the two souls I felt bad for in this movie. Especially Peet, because the girl’s funny, the girl’s sexy, the girl’s got the dramatic-chops, and the girl has screen-presence, she just hasn’t had a chance to show that in the longest-time. The only real surprise in this whole cast was T.I. who I never find entertaining or interesting in any of his movie appearances, but actually had me laugh with at least two or three of his lines. Maybe it was his delivery, maybe it was the lines themselves, or maybe it was a combination of them both, but either way, I can now say that I have laughed at a comedy where the two main laughs came from T.I. Gosh, I never thought I’d say that. Never.
Consensus: If you don’t think about the premise too much and are able to have some fun with Identity Thief, you just might, but not as much as you’d think because the script isn’t all that funny, the leads aren’t that engaging, and the story just isn’t there to provide you with the fun and wacky-spills that the trailer seems to promise on so damn much.
4.5 / 10 = Crapola!!
Audiences that go to see a movie always loved getting lied to, especially if it’s from the movie itself.
Jake Vig (Edward Burns) is a sharp and polished grifter who has swindled thousands of dollars from the unsuspecting Lionel Dolby (Leland Orser) with the help of his corrupt crew. However, Lionel wasn’t just any mark, he was an accountant for eccentric crime boss Winston King (Dustin Hoffman). Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jake offers to repay The King by pulling off the biggest con of his career.
Con movies are just so much fun to watch no matter who or what is involved and this flick is no different. However, something also tells me that it should have been a little bit more different.
Director James Foley doesn’t try to do anything new, cool, or improved with the whole con man/heist genre but he does know how to still jazz it up a bit. Although the film deals with a lot of dark subjects such as death, scamming, and robbing, the film still maintains a great deal of humor that keeps it moving with a pace that not only tells the story but also gives you something to laugh at. It’s a heist film that doesn’t really try to take itself too seriously and even though it may get a little carried away with trying too hard to be humorous, in the end, I still found myself laughing and enjoying myself.
What usually makes and breaks these heist flicks is if the actual heist at hand can be taken seriously and could actually happen in real-life with just the right amount of detail the flick is giving it. In this film’s case, it works and it’s very entertaining to see how much detail this film goes into with its actual heist. Some people may not be able to believe that everything here could have happened as neatly as it does here, but the film makes a comment about that and says that if everybody is on the right page and has the right lines, then everything will basically go according to plan. With this flick, that statement is very true and not only was the heist very well-planned but it was also neat to see all that had to go into this one as well.
My problem with this flick is that it isn’t exactly the most original one out there and I think that the lack of surprises was what took me out of this flick. Here and there, the film would give me a little surprise/twist that would catch me off guard, but too many other times I knew exactly what was going to happen, why it was going to happen, and just exactly what the aftermath was going to be. I mean it’s kind of hard to pull out something incredibly original when you got heist flicks like The Sting, The Italian Job, and even The Grifters just showing you all types of originality.
I also think that the reason there were barely any surprises whatsoever with this flick was the way that it was structured. The film begins with Jake being held by gun-point by Morris Chestnut (of all intimating black dudes out there) and he is basically telling us how and why he is in the mess that he’s in. That was fine considering it gives us a bit of mystery to why he is close to being killed but then we see Weisz’ character, who obviously has something to do with the reason he’s being held-up and it sort of just makes it pretty obvious that nothing is going to end up going right for this heist no matter what these guys try to do and that things are basically going to go down as planned. Then again, sometimes it’s not so bad knowing exactly what’s going to happen because it can be fun, but sometimes you can’t just spell out everything that’s to come within the first 5 minutes.
The cast is actually what raises this film higher and made it a lot more fun to watch. Edward Burns is great as the smart, charming, and just straight-up cool con artist here as Jake Vig, and it’s a real wonder as to why the hell this guy hasn’t gotten bigger roles considering he’s actually very good at holding a film down on his own; Rachel Weisz is pretty good here as his main squeeze, Lily, and she gets to show some comedic chops as well; Andy Garcia is pretty strange and goofy as the detective who’s tracking down Vig, named Gunther Butan, and he’s good as well; and Dustin Hoffman is very good as this creepy and snarky kingpin known as The King, and it was really cool to see Hoffman in a role that was not only funny but also very sinister and evil as if this guy could just go crazy one second and blow your head off right away. There’s a whole bunch of other people in this cast that are great too and they all elevate this film from just being another heist flick.
Consensus: Confidence may not be the most original and surprising heist flick out there, but the cast is charming, the direction from James Foley is fun and fast-paced, and the whole heist itself has just enough attention to detail and believability that it makes this film a hell of a lot better than it had any right to be.