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"Phone Booth"

Directed by Joel Schumacher.
Written by Larry Cohen.
Starring Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes and Keifer Sutherland.
Release Year:  2002
Review Date:  4/21/03 


After teaming up for the military drama “Tigerland” (a great rental, by the way), director Joel Schumacher approached his star Colin Farrell about a script he had seen which takes place in just a phone booth.  Liking the idea that it was just him for an hour and a half, Farrell took the bait and the result is the new thriller “Phone Booth”, a so-so movie that never seems to deliver on the stellar idea upon which the film is based.

A New York City publicist named Stu (Farrell) stops at a phone booth downtown to make a call to his mistress (Katie Holmes, the only actress in movie history that might be getting younger as she moves from film to film).  After hanging up, he gets another call from a sniper (Kiefer Sutherland) that explains to Stu that he will kill Stu if he leaves the booth.  We learn why the sniper has put Stu in this position over the next hour, and why Stu’s wife, a NYC police commander (Forest Whitaker), and the mistress could all potentially be the next victim of sniper fire.

I think an interesting irony of “Phone Booth” for Farrell is that his intrigue over being the center of visual attention in the film is that the film’s biggest asset is Sutherland, who supplies voiceover work as the caller we never get to see.  Sutherland, who finished his work on this film while on hiatus from “24” last fall, sounds like he is having a blast as a bad guy.  He hasn’t been this good in a film since maybe “Young Guns”, delivering his often-hilarious lines with high energy and passion.  Farrell is quite good, performing his Brooklynese mostly to perfection without slipping into stereotype.  Every time out Farrell shows you why, at 26, he could be the next big thing--a good-looking, watchable character actor that can play action or drama with equal aplomb...when will he try comedy?  He’s been in five films in the last 14 months (“The Recruit”, “Daredevil”, “Minority Report”, “Hart’s War” and this film) and he’s mixing up his projects and parts quite nicely...he’s even in two more films this year to boot.

The actors here cannot, however, make this what it needs to be--an hour-long TV drama, not an 80-minute feature film, because even at 80 minutes, the felt half an hour too long...not so good for a film that cannot justify the $10 admission that my friend Rob paid for himself, his wife Colleen and myself for each of us to get into the Boston theater that we went to.  And, the ending for “Phone Booth” left a bit to be desired.  Otherwise, an entertaining film that won’t make you angry that you saw it.

Rating:  Matinee


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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