Mini Reviews (March 2001)
The Kid, Blackheart, The Last Witness
The Kid (March 16/01)
The Kid had a really great opportunity. It had the chance to echo the great wacky comedies of the late '80s and early '90s, but instead chose to take the schmaltzy and bloated route. Now, you're probably wondering what I'm talking about when I say that great comedies came out of Hollywood 10 years ago. Think about it; movies like Weekend at Bernie's and another body-switching film, Vice Versa, were the norm. These films, while not critically acclaimed, were certainly funnier than most so-called comedies churned out nowadays (I'm looking in your direction, American Pie). The Kid has a premise that almost guarantees similar success. Almost. Bruce Willis stars as a busier-than-god executive who has lost the ability to have fun. Along comes a younger version of himself (don't ask how; it's too complicated) and is shocked to find that he grew up to be a loser. That's about the gist of it. And with a storyline like that, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect wacky situations and nutty hijinks? I say yes! But no, we are instead subject to countless scenes of Bruce Willis moping about, lamenting his dull existence. There are a few sequences featuring Bruce and the kid getting into nutty situations, but those are few and far between the parts with massive moping. Another big problem with The Kid is its length. It's two hours. A movie like this should not be longer than 100 minutes (and even that's pushing it). It's as if the director was determined to take this silly concept and turn it into an epic. It's not. It's just boring and slow and unfunny and a waste of Bruce Willis' time. Pass on The Kid and rent Like Father, Like Son instead.
Blackheart, starring Richard Grieco, is a bit of an oddity. On the one hand, it's a rather touching and genuinely convincing love story, featuring two reticent strangers reluctant to get involved due to past heartbreaks. But on the other hand, it's a routine straight-to-video thriller, predictable along every turn of the plot and completely uninteresting. Grieco stars as a con man under the thumb of a ruthless con woman (played by Maria Conchita Alonso, in a fairly one-note performance). Eventually, he tires of following her orders and kills her (or so he thinks). He relocates, changes his name and starts taking night-school classes. Across the hall from his apartment is a beautiful young woman he quickly becomes infatuated with, and arranges a "chance" meeting. The two hit it off and fall in love. But even though Grieco may be done with the past, the past isn't done with him... (which basically means...well, if you can't figure it out, maybe you should take up stamp collecting). Now, as for what I liked about Blackheart - the love story. Grieco and Fiona Loewi, who plays his love interest, make a great couple. They're good together and they have great chemistry. You almost feel bad when that silly old plot has to rear it's ugly head and break them apart. I suppose the producers were obliged to deliver a movie with violence and thrills, but really, they should have seen the potential for a touching love story and jettisoned the completely redundant action subplot. Despite those shortcomings, Blackheart is surprisingly entertaining for such fare.
The Last Witness
Poor Jonathon Schaech. He made a great impression on audiences as the egotistical lead singer in that thing you do! and as the dimwitted husband to Gwyneth Paltrow in Hush, but as of late, he's been stuck doing straight-to-video fare. The Last Witness is the latest nail in the coffin that is his career. Actually, it's not so bad. Natasha Henstridge stars as a young woman who's apartment is being used by the FBI for a stakeout, and Schaech is a handsome young agent (or is he?). Up until the final act, The Last Witness is fairly engaging. Schaech makes a convincing enough bad guy and Henstridge is able to look scared at the drop of a hat. The movie goes off the tracks, though, when the denouement starts to approach. It's that usual thing where people get chased around until the eventual death of the bad guy, but here it's made a bit better than it should be mostly due to the over-the-top performance of Schaech, who eventually takes to shooting people with a bow and arrow!