The Season's Over, The Fall Has Arrived!
An Aisle Seat Entry
By Andy Dursin
September usually starts off slow, just as it did last week when Miramax
released OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE and Morgan Creek countered with CHILL FACTOR
-- a pair of underachievers that fared poorly at the box-office over the
Things don't promise to improve much when STIGMATA opens on Friday,
a movie that has all the makings of a bomb: it's from MGM, stars Patricia
Arquette, has a script by a writer whose main previous credit is the Tom
Hanks made-for-TV campfest MAZES AND MONSTERS, and direction by a guy whose
last (and only) major release is the Disney kid-comedy BLANK CHECK. Okay,
so I'll hold off judgment until I see it (someday), but man, those trailers
are enough to keep me from spending my $8! Naturally the film's subject
matter has already "triggered the storm of controversy" by daring
to attack the Catholic Church (someone must have had a bad experience in
CCD class), but something tells me the studio secretly wants the publicity
since it's the only way this movie will probably attract any ink that doesn't
explicitly state that it's another turkey from a floundering studio and
The rest of the month features semi-interesting cinematic fare such
as Kevin Costner's third baseball movie, FOR LOVE OF THE GAME (with the
well-worn plot thread of a guy who dates a single woman with a precocious
kid), the George Clooney/Marky Mark/Ice Cube Gulf War drama-edy THREE KINGS,
and the Second Annual Autumn Ashley Judd-in-peril thriller, DOUBLE JEOPARDY,
co-starring Tommy Lee Jones.
Thankfully there will plenty of exciting DVDs on the horizon to compensate
for some potentially less-than- stellar theatrical releases, and we'll
be sure to chronicle all of them as we dive deeper into the Fall. Remember
to send all comments off to email@example.com and we'll see you in a few
weeks for the Second Anniversary, Season Premiere of The Aisle Seat here
on FSM online!
(QUICK PERSONAL NOTE: If Randy from Sony could email me again with his
email address, because the one you sent material from is invalid!)
OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE (**): Rhode Islanders Michael Corrente and Peter
and Bobby Farrelly teamed to make this disjointed and only sporadically
entertaining coming-of-age tale, set in a working class neighborhood of
Pawtucket, RI during the mid '70s.
Bad boy Shawn Hatosy is sent off to a Cornwall, Connecticut boarding
school (actually the University of Rhode Island campus, none too subtly
disguised) after single dad Alec Baldwin decides his teen son is wasting
his life away with his pot-smoking pals. Like every Teen Movie, Hatosy
quickly uncovers every clichÈ of this genre in the book -- the obnoxious
dorm monitor, the sweet young girl who changes his attitude, and learning
to get along with his dad -- while director Corrente (FEDERAL HILL, AMERICAN
BUFFALO) tries to mix sweet sentimentality in with typical Farrelly Brothers
excrement and bodily fluid jokes.
OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE, based on Peter Farrelly's reportedly more caustic
book, is an episodic film where some moments predictably fare better than
others. The boarding school sequences are routine in every respect, while
the scenes involving the grizzly Baldwin and his band of friends are more
amusing and could have possibly worked as the central focus in another,
different picture. Baldwin gives one of his better performances of late,
but the trouble is that his scenes are sandwiched between a movie that
feels as if it had been very much assembled in post-production.
It's one of those films where great dramatic moments are played out
in music montages, and supporting characters come and go without any dramatic
pay-off. Some of the performances from the younger cast leave a bit to
be desired (indeed, two zonked-out jocks I was in high school with have
SPEAKING parts!), and the voice-over narration and tacked-on ending --
though apparently far better than the original finale -- only shows how
much the movie's focus wanders aimlessly before all is said and done.
Despite some occasional moments of dramatic effectiveness, then, OUTSIDE
PROVIDENCE is a movie that will likely be appreciated only inside the southern
New England area for its locating filming, and for die-hard fans (and relatives)
of the Farrelly Brothers and Corrente at that. (R, 96 mins)
THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE (No Stars): I feel bad for Johnny
Depp, because he's talented. I feel terrible for Charlize Theron, because
she's hot. I feel sympathy for composer George S.Clinton, because he wrote
a good score and he's a nice guy.
But all of these things cannot make me feel anything but utter contempt
for THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE, which after having sat through every painful
second of it, has to be one of the prime candidates for Worst Late Summer
Movie of the Millennium.
How bad is this movie? Try unpleasant enough that I started counting
the number of surround speakers equipped on the wall of my local multiplex.
Theron plays the title character, of course, whose husband (Depp) travels
into outer space and returns under a cloud of suspicion. NASA advisor Joe
Morton knows something's up once he sees the medical tests, but once Morton
is let go and Depp moves with Theron to New York to work on some never-quite-explained
aerospace project, Theron is all by herself, hearing noises and suspecting
that something isn't right with Depp and the twins she's carrying.
Writer-director Rand Ravich obviously attempted here to make a psychological
horror film like ROSEMARY'S BABY with a sci-fi twist, but he's ultimately
undone by a script with unappealing characters, gaping plot holes that
never elaborate upon the alien scenario (what's up with the whole radio-
wave thing, and the project Depp is working on?) or explain much of anything
(like the groaner of an ending), and a deadening pace that often grinds
the movie down to the speed of slow-motion.
Theron gets to cry and performs an embarrassing dance sequence, while
Depp's one-note spaceman is so subdued that you can't tell any difference
from the man who leaves for the great beyond and the apparently- extraterrestrial
one who returns. Allen Daviau of E.T. shot the movie, but aside from that
there's no relation to the Spielberg classic.
Indeed, THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE is in a galaxy all its own -- one that's
far, far, far away from anything resembling a good movie. (R, 107 mins)
My review of Universal's upcoming THE MUMMY DVD will appear in the next
LASERPHILE in the September FSM, but just a bit of warning in case you
missed it -- the DVD does not contain Jerry Goldsmith's isolated score
during the film. Instead, the score is included only as an unadvertised
extra in the "Langauges" menu screen (where you cannot unfortunately
fast-forward through tracks; you're forced to sit there and play it all
the way through).
NEXT TIME: More reviews and comments, so send in yours to me
at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll catch
you next time!