Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Written by Coleman Hough.
Starring David Duchovny, Nicky Katt, Julia Roberts and Blair
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 8/5/02
Man, I think that director Steven Soderbergh
needs to take a break.
After walking out of the theater recently
following a showing of his new film “Full Frontal”, I thought about
what it must be like to direct seven films in five years and I
already know I don’t want to do it, even if the films are generally
really good ones. See, the material and the effort given by the
actors in “Full Frontal” is just not very inspired, and one can
imagine Soderbergh just looking exhausted after working on all of
Soderbergh’s resumé the past five years is
unbelievable—“Out of Sight” (he finally got George Clooney to stop
tilting his head—THAT in and of itself may have been Oscar-worthy),
“The Limey”, “Erin Brockovich” and
“Traffic” (which were both
nominated for Best Picture two years ago),
“Ocean’s Eleven”, and the
upcoming “Solaris” this fall. Add to that the fact that he always
shoots his films, and sometimes he edits them, and you end up with a
guy that has been involved in pre-, principal, and post-production
nonstop for the last five years. In fact, he announced recently
that after “Solaris”, he is going to take some time off with his
girlfriend, that hottie from E! Television, Jules Asner.
In “Full Frontal”, the lack of rest really
shows. A mess of interlocking stories on a Friday in Los Angeles,
the film profiles an actor (Blair Underwood), an actress (Julia
Roberts), a producer (David Duchovny), an HR executive (Catherine
Keener), her masseuse sister (Mary McCormack), and a bunch of other
folks that are trying to figure out where life is going to take them
next. There is a film-within-the-film called “Rendezvous” that
features the two actors playing an actor and a reporter as they try
to complete a profile for a popular magazine, and the masseuse is
getting ready for a trip to Tucson with a playwright (Enrico
Colantoni) that provides for a romantic opportunity after they met
over the Internet.
There are a few laughs at the expense of all
of the cameos that take place in the film...if you know what is
being parodied. So, when Harvey Weinstein, one of the head honchos
at Miramax (which is the film’s real-life distributor, too) shows
up, the way he rapid-fire goes through script deals is funny IF you
know that is what he is legendary for in his handling of new works.
Otherwise, it is like “Who’s that big white guy?” to everyone else.
And, in its look at behind-the-scenes Hollywood types, there are
some good laughs to be had.
But, for the most part, you don’t care about
any of the performers in “Full Frontal” after you have met them.
The only reason to really see this film is the hilarious performance
by Nicky Katt as a guy that relishes the opportunity to play Hitler
in a singing Nazi revue that the playwright has written for him—he
is only in four scenes but all of them are great. The rest of these
people just don’t seem to care to be in the film—Roberts dials it in
like she hasn’t done in years, Duchovny is wasted, Keener plays
herself again and David Hyde Pierce—in a long stretch—plays a boring
30-something dog-lover that is a faithful husband but wonders if his
wife (Keener) wants to leave him because he is so boring. It’s
almost like Soderbergh said “Hey guys, here are the lines...I’m
going to catch the Lakers game, so just go ahead and shoot the next
few scenes without me.” And, by shooting the movie on digital
cameras (low-end ones, it looks like), Soderbergh gives hope to the
low-budget digital filmmaker but gives the regular moviegoer eyesore
for having to watch so many badly-lit, out-of-focus visuals.
Steven, take a break!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard