THE NAKED CITY (PG)
A clumsy detective uncovers a plot to assassinate the Queen of England.
The film doesn't pretend to be big or clever, it's slapstick of the most basic kind and it does what it does well. It's incredibly funny and gives Leslie Nielsen a role which he will forever be remembered for.
Hapless cop Frank Drebin returns in a rather feeble sequel with pretty much the same formula from the first film. This time, it's a devious play to kidnap the US president's energy expert and replace him with a lookalike.
It's all quite innocent goofball fun, but it simply doesn't compare to the original in terms of laughs.
NAKED GUN 33 & A 1/3: THE FINAL INSULT (12)
The third and final Naked Gun movie pits clueless cop Lt. Drebin (now retired) against a crazed bomber who plans a terrorist attack at an Oscar ceremony.
It's slightly better than the second movie, but once again follows the same formula of silliness from the first movie without really adding anything. Nevertheless, Leslie Nielsen is a comedy genius in this role but it must be said that Anna Nicole Smith is an absolutely diabolical actress.
NEEDFUL THINGS (18)
D: Fraser C. Heston
Columbia/New Line/Castle Rock (Jack Cummins)
W: W.D. Richter [based on the novel by Stephen King]
DP: Tony Westman
Ed: Rob Kobrin
Mus: Patrick Doyle
Max Von Sydow (Leland Gaunt), Ed Harris (Sheriff Alan Pangborn), Bonnie Bedelia (Polly Chalmers), Amanda Plummer (Nettie Cobb), J.T. Walsh (Danforth 'Buster' Keeton)
Mediocre adaptation of a Stephen King novel, set in the small New England town of Castle Rock (a regular location of King's works), where their relatively peaceful community is disturbed when a mysterious stranger, Leland Gaunt, becomes a resident, using his house as an antique shop which sells anything the townsfolk desire... at a very hefty price.
The plot is interesting, but the film has many flaws, the biggest being that it is neither scary, suspenseful or tense, not helped by the TV movie standard of direction (by Charlton Heston's son) and the editing which completely nullifies scenes which attempt to build tension. Max Von Sydow seems to take huge enjoyment in the role he plays, and is the film's only saving grace. Ed Harris & Bonnie Bedelia really needed more interesting characters to play.
A longer version exists, but only for television broadcast. I doubt that it would provide an improvement on this theatrical edit.
NINE LIVES (PG)
D: Barry Sonnenfeld
EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films (Lisa Ellzey)
W: Gwyn Lurie, Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Daniel Antoniazzi & Ben Shiffrin
DP: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Ed: Don Zimmerman & David Zimmerman
Mus: Evgueni Galperine & Sacha Galperine
Kevin Spacey (Tom Brand), Jennifer Garner (Lara Brand), Robbie Amell (David Brand), Malina Weissman (Rebecca Brand), Christopher Walken (Felix Perkins)
Before I settled down to watch this English-language, French-produced comedy, my expectations were really, really, really low. The concept alone didn't fill me with confidence and neither did the line-up of the cast. I think Kevin Spacey is a great actor, but is this really a fitting role for him? The answer is no.
That being said, Nine Lives wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it still isn't very good. It's just an average, bland, inoffensive family flick.
Kevin Spacey plays Tom (get it?) Brand, a workaholic who spends most of his life in board meetings and shunning his family. Following a disagreement with a shady executive at his company, he finds himself trapped inside the cat he had just bought his young daughter for her birthday, the workings of a mystical pet shop owner (played by Christopher Walken).
It's an It's A Wonderful Life variant with a cat, except there isn't any real character arc for the main character. Throw that in with some incredibly poor visual effects and a lazy voice performance by Kevin Spacey and it's much closer to Look Who's Talking Now rather than Frank Capra.
I can't blame Spacey for taking the role. A job is a job. But he's really above this, and so is director Barry Sonnenfeld.
Like a cat in real life, it probably won't matter if you don't pay it much attention.