Mini Reviews (January 2002)
Airborne, The In Crowd, Wedding Bell Blues, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, High School High, The Companion
Airborne (January 1/02)
Ah, so this is what Steve Guttenberg's been up to. Even though it seemed as though he'd quit show business, he actually tried to re-invent himself a few years ago with Airborne - a movie that features ol' Steve as a badass elite forces agent. The story essentially revolves around a canister filled with a deadly toxin (which just happens to look identical to the one from The Rock) that everyone's trying to get their hands on. It's up to Steve and his teammates to retrieve the virus before it winds up on the open market. Airborne wants desperately to be a big-time action flick, but with a budget that was apparently lower than an episode of V.I.P., it just doesn't work. The movie gets off to an awful start with an incredibly cheesy-looking fight aboard an airplane. The exterior shots are so clearly computer generated, they seem as though they'd be more at home in a Pixar flick (and a bad Pixar flick at that). But there are a few good action sequences to be had (the majority of which are car chases - those are cheap enough to film, I suppose), and there are inexplicably a couple of really good actors in small roles - Colm Feore and Sean Bean. Perhaps they were conned into appearing? And the sequence that was the most appealing to me will mean nothing to you - a scene shot at a hotel that's no more than a couple of miles from my house. So if the idea of Guttenberg acting like bad mofo and saying stuff like "not fucking likely" sounds awesome to you, you'll probably dig Airborne.
The In Crowd
If you can imagine Melrose Place crossed with a slasher flick, then you might be able to picture The In Crowd. Lori Heuring stars as a recently released inmate of a mental ward that winds up working at an exclusive country club. And if you can swallow that, you'll probably have no problem with the rest of the movie. Once at the posh club, she winds up inexplicably befriending the local rich girl (Susan Ward) that everyone either loves or fears. The two are soon inseparable, until people start dying... At the heart of The In Crowd is a mystery that's not terribly interesting, though I will admit that it took me a while to catch on. The movie is entertaining, I suppose, in a sleazy sort of way. It all seems so pointless for a little while, with the beautiful folks prancing around in their bikinis and talking about old secrets. But finally stuff starts to happen, though why they even bothered to disguise the identity of the killer in one scene when they revealed who it was about five minutes later is beyond me. The ending is a little ludicrous, though if you're a fan of cat fights, you'll have it made in the shade.
Wedding Bell Blues
Here's a chick flick to the extreme. Three gals with loser significant others decide to chuck it all and head to Vegas for quickie marriages to appease their families. Once they get there, though, each makes a not-so-surprising discovery about herself (the trampy one learns that it's okay to stick with one guy, the shy one learns how to enjoy sex, etc). Despite the predictability of the script and the lackluster direction, Wedding Bell Blues is surprisingly enjoyable. These three actresses (Paulina Porizkova, Julie Warner, and Ileana Douglas) have great chemistry with one another, and I get the feeling that the screenwriter had Douglas in mind (she gets an emotional speech in which she talks about her average looks and how she constantly winds up good friends with the men she dates). There's nothing special here, but for this sort of thing, this is pretty good. But seriously, this is a total chick flick.
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Directed by (and co-starring) Jason Priestley, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye tells the utterly pointless story of a big-shot movie executive who, in a drunken fugue state, apparently murders a teenage runaway on a beach. The whole thing is witnessed by an enterprising homeless guy, who proceeds to blackmail the executive. His terms? He'll hide the body in exchange for the opportunity to ride the executive's coattails and gain access to the inner Hollywood circle. That's pretty much the whole movie; one sequence after another of the executive (played by Nicholas Lea) looking extremely annoyed while the homeless guy waltzes all over his turf. Finally, towards the end, there's a twist of sorts - but if you didn't see it coming, you really need to get out more. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is a repetitive and plain ol' dull flick, with a heavy-handed message about the phoniness of Hollywood (a place so wrapped up in societal niceties that even a hobo can be successful there). And Priestley asks us to care about this vagrant, though I can think of no good reason to do so. Finally, as the exec in peril, Lea gives an acceptable performance, though it's hard to feel sorry for a guy who's surrounded by all that wealth and power but doesn't seem to enjoy any of it.
High School High
It's hard to believe that High School High is from the same guys responsible for the uber-hilarious Naked Gun and Airplane! series. It's not terrible or anything, but the joke-to-laugh ratio is dangerously low. Jon Lovitz stars as a clueless teacher assigned to the toughest school around. How tough? After turning his back for roughly two seconds, he finds that his car has already been stolen. Tia Carrere co-stars as the object of Lovitz's affection (only in a slapstick comedy like this could someone like Carrere fall for a schlub like Lovitz). High School High has one or two genuine laughs with several chuckle-worthy moments peppered throughout, but this is pretty much a lackluster effort. Lovitz is more than up to the challenge of carrying the movie, though, and the silly, good-natured vibe carries the movie through it's relatively short running time. Just don't expect Naked Gun-esque hijinks.
Though it certainly could have been worse, The Companion should have been better. Kathryn Harrold stars as a writer whose latest relationship has just ended in heartbreak. She hasn't written in a while and decides to head off into the woods for some quality time with her typewriter. But since The Companion takes place in an unspecified future, Harrold has the option to take along with her a "companion" - a humanoid robot that'll cater to her every whim and desire. Named Geoffrey, this android proves to be a whiz in the kitchen and chops wood real good - but has the personality of a dead moth. Geoffrey comes complete with a handy-dandy behavior modifier, and this being a cheesy sci-fi flick, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that something goes awry and Geoffrey starts acting muy loco. As the crazed android, fellow Canadian Bruce Greenwood actually does a respectable job - as respectable as any actor can be under the circumstances, I suppose. The problem with The Companion is sheer overlength - this is the sort of story that Twilight Zone used to tell in half the time. But it's competently made (by Gary Fleder, no less - whose Imposter is far worse than this) and well acted, so it might be worth a cheapie rental.