"Hide and Seek"
Directed by John Polson.
Written by Ari Schlossberg.
Starring Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen and
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 2/6/05
I lost faith in Robert De Niro years ago,
but it would be nice to see him take at least a couple of more edgy
films now and then just to make us remember that for a long time,
many critics thought he was our greatest living actor...not the kind
of guy that would make movies like
"The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle", or
the Sea." The latest slap in the face? Commercial
work for American Express; the ads themselves are fine, it's just
weird seeing De Niro doing fee-based commerical work for a freaking
credit card company.
And now, we get a spookfest, "Hide and
Seek." Here we get De Niro playing psychologist David
Callaway, married father of a beautiful young girl named Emily
(Dakota Fanning); David loses his wife to suicide as the movie
opens. To help his little girl's emotional state--and, to some
degree, his own--David takes his daughter and moves outside of New
York City, to a country home in a quiet neighborhood where they can
concentrate on becoming a family again. Without any other kids
in the neighborhood, Emily resorts to making up an imaginary friend
named Charlie...but, kooky stuff starts happening around the house
and to the neighbors, so David starts to investigate just who this
Charlie guy really is.
I must have said it to myself five times,
but I kept asking myself, "What the hell is Bob De Niro doing in
this movie??" The script is flat-out boring, much like the
Beneath" was; for a while, all we get in terms of scares are
cats that meow too loud or doors that ominously shut closed.
We meet a couple of David's neighbors, including the
surprisingly-still-hot Elisabeth Shue as a friend/babysitter, who
register for a little while as a change-up to watching De Niro act
like he is reflecting, or curious, or plain old bored. But, as
slow as most of this is, I found it surprisingly watchable, due to
the need to satiate my curiosity regarding the twist that would have
to surface eventually on just who this Charlie is.
This makes "Hide and Seek" a tough one--I
was interested to see how the script would explain the Charlie
character, and once they did, I was fairly satisfied. But,
then...well, the film doesn't just end right there, and with a twist
like this one, it needed to end right away but it doesn't. So,
we get another 15 minutes of crap, killing even the reasonably cool
twist that comes up near the end. When I broke it all down
when the film was over, there's really about 30 minutes of film
stretched into a 105-minute final product...which doesn't do
anything but frustrate you if you aren't invested in seeing
While De Niro is average in the film,
Fanning continues to impress with a nice diversity to her parts.
I have seen Fanning in
"i am sam" and
"Man on Fire";
here in "Hide and Seek", her blank eyes do most of the talking for
her to scary effect. She's in like five more films this year
and next, so I'm excited to see if she will turn this into something
special, like Jodie Foster...or, something not so special, like Mac
Culkin. (Anyone seen Haley Joel Osment, by the way??)
The other support actors seemed to sign a "act-as-blah-as-possible"
agreement with the studio; Dylan Baker, Shue and Janssen all seem to
have nothing to say and no interesting way to say it; none of this
even helps with keeping the mood of the film consistent, it just
helps to make you even more sleepy by the middle of the movie.
I don't know, I have a sick need to see all
of these not-quite-horror films, so if you are like me, then
watching "Hide and Seek" to get to its twist might be worthwhile.
Otherwise, save yourself the trouble and watch something better on
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