Saturday, August 7, 2010

88 Minutes. F

I'm not sure what's more hilarious, the fact that 88 Minutes is such a monstrosity, or that director Jon Avnet had two awful films starring Al Pacino released in the same year. I'm not sure why Avnet was allowed to helm two Pacino vehicles in such a close amount of time. My only guess is that Pacino gets along with Avnet fairly well and also feels that he's done enough good work to finally make some pure paycheck entertainment. But if not for the star power in Righteous Kill and especially 88 Minutes, these flicks would have disappeared into obscurity following a brief stiny in the discount bins at Walmart. And I mean that more with 88 Minutes, easily the worst of the two. It's never good when a movie gets more absurd by the scene. There's a lot of details in the plot concerning a man on death row and a copy-cat killer, but the title lets you know the main problem forensic psychiatrist Jack Gramm (Pacino) faces is that he gets a phone call saying he only has 88 minutes to live. The major problem the movie makes then is that instead of becoming an all-out race-against-time thriller, it tries to mix that strategy with a dead serious attitude that comes across as completely artificial. While discussing the movie, Avnet states that the guts of the story is Pacino's character and his personal troubles. I laughed when I heard that on the DVD special feature, not because the movie fails in trying to get this point across, but because Avnet had the nerve to deliver such a statement with so much sincerity. Because the truth is, you can't talk about the film without snickering and breaking a smile. 88 Minutes does pull off a pretty remarkable feat by getting absolutely everything wrong. The story, the acting, the dialogue, the artifice, the copious red herrings, and that ridiculous ending were all derisible. Pacino is one of the great actors, but here he's more concerned with looking and sounding goofy than trying to give a good performance. And the rest of the cast, consisting mostly of Gramm's students, seemed like amateurs in an acting class instead of a psychiatry class. And this movie gets everything wrong. When the student says he's checking the Mariners score, we get a shot of his phone. We see the Mariners are playing at home, but it's only ten thirty in the morning, right? Baseball games never start before noon.

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