Three Comedies from Sony Pictures
Leonard Part 6 (May 13/05)
Unlike a lot of high-profile bombs (ie The Adventures of Pluto Nash), Leonard Part 6 lives up to its reputation as one of the worst films ever made (it sounds like hyperbole, but it's true). Filled to the brim with unpleasant characters, absurd situations, and an all-around feeling of ineptness, the movie is almost completely lacking in positive attributes (some of the scenes featuring Bill Cosby's Leonard and his daughter aren't completely terrible, I suppose). The story, revolving around an ex-CIA agent's efforts to stop a diabolical madwoman from taking over the world, feels like nothing more than a slapdash attempt to tenuously string together a series of disastrously unfunny vignettes (ie the sequence that finds Leonard forced to ballet dance his way out of a dangerous situation). Cosby himself warned potential viewers to avoid this mess, if that's any indication.
no stars out of
Slappy and the Stinkers (May 12/05)
It seems fairly obvious that Slappy and the Stinkers has been crafted to appeal solely to kids, what with its emphasis on slapstick humor and a cast full of idiotic adults (not surprisingly, it's up to the Stinkers - a gang of obnoxious children - to save the day). The story revolves around the Stinkers' efforts to set a sea lion named Slappy free, much to the chagrin of their stuffy headmaster (B.D. Wong) and an inept criminal (Sam McMurray) who wants to sell the animal to a questionable zoo. The bottom line is that unless the viewer is under the age of eight, it's almost impossible not to root against the Stinkers (the supposedly villainous adults are far more ingratiating than these brats). This is despite some better-than-expected performances among the grown-ups (along with Wong and McMurray, the cast includes Bronson Pinchot as a clumsy gardener and Jennifer Coolidge as a clueless teacher), all of whom are sadly overshadowed by those pesky kids. That sea lion sure is cute, though.
Suburban Madness (May 9/05)
Though it originally premiered on CBS, Suburban Madness feels as though it'd be more at home on Lifetime. Based on the true-life story of Clara Harris, the film follows the spurned businesswoman in the days before she ran over her philandering husband (thus killing him). While that aspect of Suburban Madness is actually fairly intriguing, the majority of the movie revolves around a private investigator named Bobbi Bacha (Sela Ward) and her involvement in another case involving a cheating spouse (which does eventually turn out to be related to the Clara Harris case). But it's difficult to work up any interest in Bobbi's exceedingly melodramatic storyline, which follows the P.I. as she attempts to overcome her seething mistrust of all men (including her own husband). This is despite an expectedly ingratiating performance from Ward, a talented and underrated actress who certainly deserves better material than this.