Baseketball

Well over a dozen movies have by now been made because of Airplane!, a movie closely based on a 1957 potboiler called Zero Hour; among the spin-offs were other lampoons by the same team (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker), then further lampoons by Abrahams (Hot Shots!, Mafia!) and David Zucker (The Naked Gun 2 1/2, BASEketball), while Jerry Zucker went on to direct Ghost. The main difference between Abrahams and David Zucker seems to be that the former cares slightly more about gags while the latter gives slightly more emphasis to character and plot. BASEketball, silly and sometimes likable and written by many hands, works a dumb and dumber premise involving a new sport devised by two geeks (South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone), flogs the premise until it whimpers, and throws in a lot of bad-taste gags for spice. I was bored well before the end, but found the first half hour pretty funny. With Dian Bachar, Yasmine Bleeth, Jenny McCarthy, Robert Vaughn, and Ernest Borgnine. (JR)

Published on 28 Jul 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Your Friends & Neighbors

This static tale about three dysfunctional couples, Neil LaBute’s first feature after In the Company of Men, could be the biggest disappointment of the year. If the mean-spirited characters of the earlier film offered a political provocation, the ones here reek of Carnal Knowledge and early Edward Albee; they seem left over from theater workshops, which is the only place their generic unpleasantness might possibly work. The cast is OK, and LaBute still has an eye, but the uses they’re put to seem contrived and arty. Filmed in ‘Scope; with Amy Brenneman, Aaron Eckhart, Catherine Keener, Nastassja Kinski, Jason Patric, and Ben Stiller. (JR)

Published on 28 Jul 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Negotiator

In this Chicago-based thriller, Samuel L. Jackson plays a police negotiator framed for the murder of his partner. Holding hostages in retaliation, he demands the services of a rival negotiator (Kevin Spacey). This is fairly efficient if you can square efficiency with being twice as long as necessary and overly familiar to boot; at least Jackson and Spacey keep it afloat. Directed by F. Gary Gray from a script by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox; with David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, and the late J.T. Walsh. (JR)

Published on 21 Jul 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Mafia!

This relentlessly vulgar Mafia-movie parody from Jim Abrahams (Airplane!, Hot Shots!) begins promisingly with a lampoon of Casino before descending to more predictable hit-or-miss riffs on the Godfather movies. Another descent is made from high spirits to bad vibes, as crassness and cruelty eventually overwhelm any sustained sense of fun. With Jay Mohr, Billy Burke, Christina Applegate, Pamela Gidley, Olympia Dukakis, and Lloyd Bridges in one of his last screen performances; written by Abrahams, Greg Norberg, and Michael McManus. (JR)

Published on 20 Jul 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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