After breaking its back trying to persuade us it isn’t another Cable Guy, this Jim Carrey comedy settles on its central premise–a crass lawyer and neglectful father can’t tell a lie for 24 hours–and becomes pretty funny, except when it turns to goo. Carrey’s attempted self-immolation in a men’s room, which weirdly recalls certain Fred Astaire routines, may be a small classic. The irony is that audiences who despise Jerry Lewis and roar at Carrey probably don’t realize how close the two comics are; Tom Shadyac’s direction is closer to Lewis’s early films than his later and more personal work, but everything from the crazy grimaces to the sentimentality to the outtakes behind the final credits can be traced back to him. Written by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur; with Maura Tierney, Jennifer Tilly, Swoosie Kurtz, Amanda Donohoe, and Cary Elwes. Bricktown Square, Burnham Plaza, Ford City, Golf Mill, Hyde Park, Lincoln Village, Old Orchard, 600 N. Michigan, Webster Place. –Jonathan Rosenbaum
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.
David Cronenberg wrote and directed this 1996 film, a masterful minimalist adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s 1973 neo-futurist novel about sex and car crashes, and like the book it’s audacious and intensethough ultimately somewhat monotonous in spite of its singularity. James Spader meets Holly Hunter via a car collision, and they and Spader’s wife (Deborah Kara Unger) become acquainted with a kind of car-crash guru (Elias Koteas) and his own set of friends (including Rosanna Arquette). Sex and driving are all that this movie and its characters are interested in, but the lyrical, poetic, and melancholic undertones are potent, the performances adept and sexy, the sounds and images indelible. If you want something that’s both different and accomplished, even if you can’t be sure what it is, don’t miss this. 100 min. (JR)
An Irish terrorist from Belfast (Brad Pitt) becomes a boarder in the house of an Irish-American policeman (Harrison Ford) in New York City, in a thriller directed by Alan J. Pakula from a script by David Aaron Cohen, Vincent Patrick, and Kevin Jarre. As a well-directed star vehicle with a couple of good action sequences, this is good, effective filmmaking, but I was periodically bored; when Ford and Pitt aren’t lighting up the screen nothing much happens. Gordon Willis is the cinematographer; with Margaret Colin, Ruben Blades, Treat Williams, and Natascha McElhone. (JR)