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"The General's Daughter"

Directed by Simon West.
Written by Christopher Bertolini and William Goldman.
Starring John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe and Timothy Hutton.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  6/20/99 


One quick note that I've gotten some complaints from a couple of people about a few e-mails that went out to the whole SMR list unsolicited last week.  On this list, please refrain from telling everyone about that new website that's about to go public, or that forward about how you should "care more than others think is wise", or sending everyone that picture of the really fat girl that is taking a shower (whoa Katy:  flashback!).  Gracias...

Also, I think the feedback I got from the "Austin Powers II" review was pretty funny.  I got around 30 responses on that one, ranging from Mandy's "Finally, a man that doesn't worship the ground that Austin powers walks on" to Jellybean & Money's pleadings that in fact, the movie was a really funny film.  I just want to reiterate:  "Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Shagged Me" is a piece of shit.  Fat Bastard was its saving grace.

This week, "Kickass" Simon and I went to see "The General's Daughter" at the new Regal Ballston 12 in Arlington.  If you haven't been to a Regal Theater before, you should go check one out:  it is the only chain in America that can claim to offer stadium seating only.  This means that now, the days of saying to the person in front of you "Hey man, could you move your big-ass head out of the way?" are over.

Unfortunately, the movie wasn't quite as cool as the theater.  I can't blame the talent assembled for this one:  Travolta, James Woods, Clarence Williams III, Timothy Hutton, and they all deliver the goods.  And, the set-up of the crime, where the daughter of a highly-decorated, soon-to-retire general is murdered, is pretty solid too.  But, it quickly degenerated into Standard Whodunit Type A, where Travolta suddenly unearths all of the important information in the last 45 minutes from two people that are only introduced late in the film after a series of intense flashbacks (including a gang rape, which Kickass thought was overly visual).  And, for some reason—and you can't tell this from the ads--the daughter is written to be this incredible Army officer that, in her spare time, just likes to keep a gimp in the basement.  Strong conflict, and it still doesn't make sense to me.

Add to all of this the fact that there is a useless subplot in the first 20 minutes that has nothing to do with the heart of the story, and this can make for some frustration.  This is as middle-of-the-road as movies get...I'm already trying to figure out what I'm going to see next week.  I do know that, by popular demand and to give you a better perspective on what I like in my movies, I'll be announcing my all-time top 10 next week.  Some people have correctly questioned what I think makes the perfect movie, so it makes sense to share.

Rating:  Matinee


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 "Office Space"). 

"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, 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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09