Mini Reviews (January/February 2001)
Best Men, Executive Power, 36 Hours to Die, No Alibi
Luke Wilson stars as a man who's just gotten out of prison after three years and is getting married to Drew Barrymore. He hooks up with his friends (Dean Cain, Andy Dick, and Sean Patrick Flanery) and they head off to the chapel for the ceremony. Things go awry, though, when Flanery pops into a bank and instead of making a withdrawal, robs it. Through a wacky set of coincidences, they all wind up in the bank and the rest of the film involves clever dialogue and comedic set pieces. That's not to say it's bad. Quite the opposite, actually. For a whimsical and plotless movie, Best Men is actually pretty good. The caliber of the acting helps (Cain, in particular, stands out as a man who couldn't be further from Superman) and the script doesn't rely completely on worn-out cliches. The ending is a little too neat and tidy, but as far as straight-to-video talk-fests go, Best Men's worth a look.
What happened to Craig Sheffer? He's gone from co-starring with Brad Pitt and being directed by Robert Redford in A River Runs Through It to straight-to-video crap like this. Executive Power casts Sheffer as a secret service agent who helps the President cover up the death of a woman he was sleeping with. And by the end of the film, it turns out that this had nothing to do with the rest of the film! See, it's assumed that people are trying to kill him because of the presidential cover-up but in a lame twist, it turns out that the first lady had had an affair and that's why people were trying to kill him. Despite a surprisingly strong supporting cast (William Atherton as the Prez, John Heard as an evil agent and Denise Crosby as an advisor), Executive Power is as hackneyed and cliched as straight-to-video flicks tend to get. In fact, it's movies like this which give the moniker "straight-to-video" a bad name.
no stars out of ****
36 Hours to Die
Believe it or not, but the script for this TNT-made film was written by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot)! Treat Williams stars as a brewery magnate who suffers from a heart attack, and spends the next few months recovering at home. When he finally goes back to work, he finds that his brother has made a complete mess of things, primarily by owing an obscene amount of money to the mob. Saul Rubinek plays the head mob guy, and he's planning on stealing $120 million from Williams' company, but Williams isn't giving up without a fight. I've always been a fan of Rubinek and he really stands out here. From his work on Frasier, it's pretty difficult picturing him as a sinister bad guy but he pulls it off. And Williams is good too, proving that if you give him stuff that isn't The Substitute 800, he can be quite charming and interesting to watch. Good action sequences and characters worth caring about make 36 Hours to Die better than straight-to-cable fare routinely trotted out.
Speaking of routine straight-to-cable fare... No Alibi stars Dean Cain and (who else?) Eric Roberts as an innocent nice guy and a sinister baddie, respectively. One night, Cain's brother steals a lot of dope from Roberts using Cain's car, and Roberts tracks Cain down vis-à-vis his licence plate and sends his surrogate daughter to seduce and (hence) trick Cain into giving up the goods. As intriguing as that may sound, it's not. This is a film that could have easily been 15 minutes. The running time is padded out to degrees of absurdity that the film really begins to bore about halfway through. In fact, around the 45-minute mark (I won't "spoil" what happens) the film essentially ends, but because it's inappropriate to have a movie less than an hour, the movie just keeps on going and going and going until it's completely impossible to care about what happens to anyone. And despite game performances from Cain and Roberts (who's so good at playing this psycho character that I have to begin to wonder what the dude's like in real life), the movie just plain sucks.