There have been great
movies, such as the recent Master and Commander, that I have
disliked. The Haunted Mansion proves the converse of that
statementóitís certainly possible for me to enjoy a bad flick. And I
donít just mean like, I mean literally cherish. This movie has terrible
acting, many clichťd elements, and some odd direction, to say the least.
Some would call it a disaster. Iíd call it an awful masterpiece thatís
chocked full of success. The Haunted Mansion may be flawed, but
itís a fun experience thatís tremendously faithful to the ride in which
is based upon. This, alone, is good enough for me.
If the filmmakers had
cut a few things, The Haunted Mansion couldíve been a truly
masterful kidsí movie. Firstly, it wouldíve been a wise decision to
choose another lead actress; Marsha Thomason is absolutely dreadful.
Despite the fantastic efforts of funny-man Eddie Murphy and the rest of
the cast, she almost ruins the entire picture. Secondly, director Rob
Minkoff shouldíve cut many of the unnecessary conventional skits. When
watching Murphy fall out of the second story of ďthe haunted mansionĒ
onto his car, and gets backup without injury, I wanted to slap myself in
the face. Lastly, the script needed a polishing. Even though I did
admire the fact that screenwriter David Berenbaum attempted to create a
real plot, some of the events that take place in it are far too
absurd for their own good. However, flaws aside, The Haunted Mansion
manages to be an entertaining film.
The visuals are
absolutely masterful. When viewing the movie, we are transported into
the ride, which, ironically, is amazingly refreshing. Gazing at The
Haunted Mansion is hypnotizingóthe sets, special effects, and
costumes are detailed and colorfulóaesthetically pleasing in every
aspect. These are worth the price of admission alone; you must see this
film on the big-screen, it wonít seem to be half the movie that it is on
video, because of the reduced size.
Iíve been on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland three times
before, and it remains one of my favorites in the whole park. Itís
always had a wondrous feel and air to it thatís indescribable. We can be
thankful that this movie does the experience justice.
disgustingly sweet, sugar-filled and atrocious. By its end, we feel as
though weíve consumed a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and are about to dive
into another box. The first forty five minutes are enjoyable, but after
that, the material becomes sickeningly intolerable. Elf does have
its moments, most of which are very funny, but these are certainly not
worth the price of a ticket. Once youíve seen the trailer, youíve
witnessed pieces of almost every humorous skit. And the truth is that
Iíd rather sit through the trailer fifteen times in a row than see this
movie again. I wish I could say more on its behalf.
In my opinion, Will
Farrell is one of the best comedians of our time. Whether you hate him
or you love him, you must admit that heís likeable, dopily amusing, and
expressive when performing. Whether it be in Saturday Night Live skits
or films, he knows how to make an audience laugh. He molds a handful of
laughs in Elf and is about the only guy on the planet who could
play this role, but the script is so insanely bad, he is rarely able to
salvage the well-being of the picture. I hope that the second
installment in the Old School franchise proves to be a better use
of his many talents.
In a year, Elf
will be a fine Christmas rental for the whole family. Just make sure
that your DVD playerís scene-skipper button isnít broken.
Now hereís a
movie thatís got a great story, superb acting, and deep characters, but
has one sole flaw. Even though the pacing isnít horrible, and the film
flows, the tempo in which director Robert Benton chooses to use is
abominable. However, this is nothing that four Oscar nominees, two of
them being winners, canít save.
And aside from
the interesting and involving screenplay, itís really only the acting
that saves this one. The real highlight of the film is Ed Harris, who
plays the psychotic ex-husband of Faunia Farely (Nicole Kidman), a
mysterious and closed woman who begins to have an affair with Coleman
Silk (Anthony Hopkins). He is widower, twice her age, and quit from his
profession as a Classics professor, after being accused of using a
racial term, derogatorily. Colemanís secret is the movie. Before
it is unraveled, we feel as though the film will be conventional and
dullótwo things that this twist doesnít allow. The Human Stain is
really spectacular mostly because of Harris, Kidman, and Hopkins, as
well as Wentworth Miller, who plays Coleman, in his college years.
absurd that Benton tells us that Faunia and Coleman end up dying, in the
very first scene. While he clearly wants to put emphasis on the material
that comes after this event, and I can clearly see why, it wasnít, by
any means, an inspired move. However, the fantastic adaptation of the
screenplay, by Nicholas Meyer, helps maintain the poignancy and punch of
the final minutes of the movie. The Human Stain is an imperfect
picture, with an effective story and bold performances. This is just
enough for me to recommend it, without hesitation.