Three Special Editions from Paramount
Clueless (September 3/05)
Though Clueless hasn't aged all that well - something that's primarily due to Amy Heckerling's dated directorial choices - the film remains fairly entertaining and engaging throughout, thanks to several exceedingly charismatic performances and a sporadically clever screenplay (penned by Heckerling). Alicia Silverstone stars as Cher, a vapid, spoiled teenager who spends her days shopping and scheming. Her trouble free lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of her smart and sarcastic cousin, Josh (Paul Rudd), though it's not long before the two find themselves becoming friendly with one another. Clueless boasts an impressive roster of performers - the supporting cast includes Brittany Murphy, Jeremy Sisto, and Breckin Meyer - and the light and breezy tone keeps things interesting for a while. But the film inexplicably adopts a melodramatic tone in the third act, thoroughly undermining everything that's come prior. And although the movie isn't quite the classic it's been made out to be, it's a mindlessly diverting way to kill 97 minutes.
Tommy Boy (August 19/05)
Featuring a pair of exceedingly effective performances from Chris Farley and David Spade, Tommy Boy is an affable yet thoroughly middle-of-the-road comedy that's elevated by the genuine chemistry between the two stars. Farley plays Tommy, a gregarious goofball who - after the death of his father (Brian Dennehy) - must team up with the snide Richard (Spade) in order to save the family business. It's because Spade and Farley are so good together that we're willing to overlook Bonnie and Terry Turner's lackluster screenplay, which emphasizes a cliched storyline and unusually melodramatic interludes over character development and wacky subplots (although, to be fair, there are more instances of the latter as the film progresses). Director Peter Segal does a nice job of reigning in Farley's overbearing personality, allowing the actor to turn Tommy into a believable figure - without sacrificing his penchant for physical comedy (check out Black Sheep, Spade and Farley's second collaboration, for an example of what can happen when Farley's left to his own devices).
Witness (October 2/05)
Inexplicable as it seems, Witness somehow manages to cross a thriller with a romantic comedy with a fish-out-of-water story to unusually entertaining effect. Harrison Ford stars as John Book, a police officer who discovers that the only witness to a brutal murder is a small Amish boy (Lukas Haas). After a couple of corrupt cops - played by Josef Sommer and Danny Glover - figure out what's going on, Book has no choice but to hide out with the boy and his mother (Kelly McGillis) at their farm. Though the film opens and closes with violent sequences, the majority of Witness follows Book's efforts to acclimatize himself to the laid-back, antiquated Amish lifestyle. As a result, the pace of the film slows considerably during this portion - though the combination of Peter Weir's steady direction and Ford's endlessly engrossing performance ensures that it never becomes boring (yet there's no doubt that certain scenes could've used a little trimming, particularly the barn-raising sequence). The movie's conclusion, revolving around Book's confrontation with the dirty cops, is surprisingly gripping and thoroughly exciting, and proves to be a perfect capper to a refreshingly adult story.