Two Extended Editions from Disney
Coyote Ugly (July 24/06)
As slick and mindless as one might expect (this is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, after all), Coyote Ugly is admittedly kind of entertaining for a while but ultimately undone by its reliance on cliches to propel the story forward. A typical fish-out-of-water story, Coyote Ugly follows Piper Perabo's Violet Sanford as she moves to New York City with dreams of making it as a songwriter. After the inevitable realization that fame and fortune aren't easily attained, Violet begins working at a raunchy bar called Coyote Ugly - where she slowly but surely conquers her fear of performing in public. Charming performances aside, Coyote Ugly has clearly been fashioned to appeal primarily to adolescent girls - the majority of whom will undoubtedly delight to Violet's empowering antics. Director David McNally infuses the movie with all the subtlety of a music video, while Gina Wendkos' shallow, exceedingly predictable screenplay relies primarily on the tropes of other like-themed films to propel the story forward. Such elements would be easy enough to accept were Coyote Ugly appropriately paced, but at a running time of almost two hours (!), the movie is overlong by at least 30 minutes and there is, consequently, an absurd amount of repetition at work here (how many scenes of girls dancing on top of a bar does one film need, anyway?)
King Arthur (February 11/05)
It's becoming increasingly clear that Antoine Fuqua should probably stick to films that revolve around the streets, ie Training Day. With Tears of the Sun and now King Arthur, it's obvious that the filmmaker's slick sense of style just isn't compatible with certain kinds of movies. And though King Arthur is very well acted and not nearly as interminable as Tears of the Sun (then again, not much is), the movie never quite becomes a thoroughly engaging experience (despite several admittedly gripping sequences). Clive Owen stars as the title character, while Keira Knightley (and her disturbingly puffy lips) plays Guinevere (other figures from the Arthurian legend, including Merlin, Galahad and Lancelot, also pop up). This abundance of characters contributes to a distinct feeling of confusion in the film's opening half hour, which is frustratingly talky and completely ineffectual at establishing any kind of backstory for these people. The script, by David Franzoni, emphasizes dialogue that doesn't sound remotely authentic; there's an overly rehearsed, theatrical quality to it (ie characters give speeches rather than have conversations). This review applies to the direct-to-DVD "director's cut," which extends the film by around 20 minutes yet curiously drops a humorous subplot involving Ray Winstone's character. As a result, it's hard to ignore the movie's lack of flow; the story peaks at around 75-minutes with a battle on an enormous patch of ice, and it's all downhill from there. While the performances are quite good (Owen, Winstone, and Stellan Skarsgård are the obvious highlights), the film remains an instantly forgettable, wannabe epic.