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Phone Booth /

Rated: R

Starring: Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Keith Nobbs, Katie Holmes, Kiefer Sutherland 

Directed by: Joel Schumacher 

Produced by: David Zucker, Gil Netter, Jerry Zucker 

Written by: Larry Cohen, Lawrence G Cohen 

Distributor: 20th Century Fox


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

     If there is one distinguished, redeeming feature in Phone Booth, itís Colin Farrell. Aside from the wonderful acting, it has almost no respectable features. Joel Schumacherís direction is horrible, and he assembles the film as if it were a television sitcom or an original movie, constrained to the whereabouts of HBO. The production, by David Zucker, Gil Netter, and Jerry Zucker, is even more careless. The cuts, snaps, and scene transitions are a wreck. Phone Booth is a well-acted, but poorly made film. It couldíve been an excellent motion picture, with a better crew. But, regardless, it is still enjoyableóand as far as thrillers go, itís one hell of a trip.

     Stu Shepard (Farrell) is a high-class publicist, with the mindset of a carelessly fast talking celebrity. Stu is married, but also is in a relationship with Pamela McFadden (Katie Holmes). Stu doesnít think much of having two women in his life, and figures that what the other doesnít know, wonít hurt them. He calls his wife on his cell phone, daily, while sheís at work. He calls Pamela in his favorite payphone, however. The reason that he calls Pamela from the phone booth, and not his cell, is because his wife can check his portable phone bills. If she were to find out about Pamela, both of his relationships would likely, soon be over. Every time he calls Pamela from the booth, he slips off his wedding ring, for psychological reasons. Even though he is not being faithful, and isnít happy about it, he does not intend to break up with his female mistress.

     One day, after making his usual call to Pamela, the phone in the booth rings as he is walking out of it. Without any hesitation, Stu picks the phone up. Why he does this, I donít know. The movie simply says that ďA phone that is ringing must be picked up.Ē Stu finds that a man is on the other line of the call, and he becomes very suspicious of him. The man continuously asks him personal questions. Once they are into the heart of a mindless conversation, the man tells Stu that he has a rifle that is aimed directly at him. If he leaves the booth, the man will shoot him. As this tense dialogue is being exchanged, several hookers who work at the sex shop next door are banging on the booth, because they would like to make a call. Their forceful attempts to get into the booth, add to the immense pressure, building up in Stuís head. Out of fear, Stu commands that the sniper on the other end of the line shoot one of the hookers (he is carefully watching the booth that Stu is in, and has been watching him for some time). Gladly, he does.

     After she is shot, uproar is born. Her fellow co-workers, and everyone out and about on the block, are led to believe that Stu shot the hooker. While this really isnít true, he has no evidence to prove that he didnít, nor does he have any witnesses that share his position. Stu is in a lose-lose situation. If he tries to run, the sniper will shoot him. If he confesses to the police, the sniper will shoot him. If he commands that the sniper shoot one of the police officers, which later surround him, they will shoot him. It will be a miracle if Stu makes it out of the situation alive. I am fond of the story, and the writing is excellent. ďYour life is on the line,Ē as the tagline reads.

     If it werenít so terribly made, Phone Booth wouldíve been one of the better movies of the year. But, sadly, it resorts to a cheesy methodology, which diverges into a boring presence. But, this time I canít say I didnít see it coming. Director Joel Schumacher has made twenty-four films in his career, and unfortunately, not one of them has been very good. I have respect for anyone who is able to birth that many movies in one lifetime, but Schumacherís work is some of the worst to ever be put on this planet. He cannot direct, and shouldíve called it quits a long time ago. I find it intriguing that he continues to be employed. When you make as many crappy movies as he has (Bad Company, 8MM), it would seem as though finding work would be hard. His movies donít even sell well. What are the filmmaking companies thinking.

     The best part of Phone Booth is undeniably Colin Farrell. As I have said in past reviews, of films that he has starred in, he is a rising star. This man can act with such a distinct charisma; it is an extreme pleasure to watch him onscreen. He can also mask his heavy Irish accent, with one several different American tones (in Phone Booth he attempts a New York accent). This is, in itself, pretty miraculous. During this film, Farrell occupies the screen 95% of the time, and luckily, this works towards its advantage. Farrellís depiction of Mr. Shepard is outstanding. I never knew that an actor could perform so well, with only a phone booth to work with. I will remember Phone Booth as the movie where Farrell was really able to come out of his shell. He has been good in the past, in supporting roles. But, I have never seen him like this before.

     An enjoyable thriller, Phone Booth is at least tolerable, and will make the perfect rental. But, donít say that I didnít warn you; it is most certainly not worth a theatre trip. It is worth seeing, however, because of Farrellís acting and the excellent writing. But, Joel Schumacherís direction and the awful production, restrict it from accomplishing much. If you are a fan of thrillers, and donít mind the misuse of split-screens, then I give you the go ahead. Others, be forewarned. There are many films in release at this time, that easily out beat Phone Booth in terms of content. If youíre looking for something worth the time and money, go and see Bend it like Beckham.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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