Tag Archives: kevin bacon

A Few Good Men (1992)

A-Few-Good-Men

I had never seen A Few Good Men until recently, and, even though I knew the film’s famous quote (“You can’t handle the truth!”), I did not know that it belonged to this film. When my good friend TJ, Editor-in-Chief of MovieByte.com and head host of the site’s podcast, The MovieByte Podcast, on which I am his co-host, suggested that we review this film together, I said, “why not?,” and set out to watch it – and I had a great time talking about it with TJ on Episode 69 of The MovieByte Podcast!

A Few Good Men, directed by Rob Reiner (The Princess BrideThis is Spinal Tap) and with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (The West WingThe Social NetworkMoneyball), is based on Sorkin’s 1989 play of the same name. When two US Marines are court-martialed for killing a fellow Marine, the young, inexperienced Navy lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is assigned to the case. After striking a deal with the prosecution, Captain Jack Ross (Kevin Bacon), Kaffee learns from the defendants that their actions were the result of an order given by Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick (Kiefer Sutherland), Kaffee drops the deal and takes the case to court. With help from Lt. Sam Weinberg (Kevin Pollak) and Lt. Commander JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore), Kaffee sets out to prove that the two Marines were merely acting on orders, bringing him against Kendrick and his superior, hardball Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson).

Courtroom dramas are just fun, with the prime example being the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, based on Harper Lee’s book of the same name and starring Gregory Peck. Tom Cruise is no Atticus Finch, but his inherent on-screen likability works well for him here as he works to convince the jury of his clients’ innocence. For me, it was interesting seeing Cruise outside of an action role, and I certainly wish he did more of them because he’s excellent here. Demi Moore does a decent job of showing uncertainty from a character who is usually so sure of herself, and most of the other characters do a fine job as well, though they’re nothing to speak of. Jack Nicholson, however, is obviously the shining star of the film, despite his limited screen time, which can be compared to Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, in which he was onscreen for only 12 minutes but still won the Academy Award. Though Jack Nicholson didn’t win the Academy Award for his performance here, he still does a fantastic job of portraying such a stubborn character, and his delivery of the classic line doesn’t at all feel forced or cliched. In fact, I think that that is Nicholson’s greatest strength as an actor: he is able to play crazy/angry/etc. so believably without it seeming forced.

The star behind the scenes here is Aaron Sorkin, who wrote both the screenplay and the original play that it is based on. His dialogue is sharp, and his storytelling is strong, and the relationships between characters develop nicely and provide several nice moments throughout the film. Most of the humor he writes into the script is good as well, though I must admit that there were a few jokes that seemed forced, being there simply for the purpose of being jokes rather than being a byproduct of something that actually advances the story.

On the whole, my complaints are minimal, and I was entertained throughout. A Few Good Men is a well-deserved classic that has withstood the test of time; I think that I was destined to like this film. With the combination of so many amazing talents – Rob Reiner, who directed one of my favorite films (The Princess Bride; (my review)), Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the screenplay for another of my favorite films (The Social Network), Tom Cruise, who I have only recently discovered and enjoyed in films such as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (my review) and Oblivion (my review), and Jack Nicholson, one of my favorite actors (The ShiningOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) – what’s not to love?

-Chad

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

MPAA: R – for language


R.I.P.D. (2013)

NOTE: Review originally written for and posted at MovieByte.com. To see this post and check out the guys over at MovieByte, click here!
RIPD

One word: WHY.

R.I.P.D. tells the story of Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), a police officer who opens the film with the burying of some mysterious pieces of gold under an orange tree in his backyard. We quickly learn that the gold was found by him and his partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon), during a drug bust, but Nick tells Bobby that he has decided to return the gold. Later that day, during a raid, Bobby shoots Nick, killing him and sending him to the office of Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), head of the Rest In Peace Department, or R.I.P.D. for short. The organization’s purpose is to find dead people, called “deados,” and capture them. Nick is partnered with veteran R.I.P.D. officer Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), who is not too keen to have a partner. As the two work together on Earth in their avatar forms (Roy as an attractive woman and Nick as an elderly Chinese man), they uncover a plot to start what amounts to an apocalypse, so they must learn to work together in order to prevent the coming of the end of the world.

From the very start of the film, when a voiceover from Nick tells us about how “3 or 4 days ago” he didn’t even know about the R.I.P.D., to the “jokes” that were intended to make us laugh to the choice of the avatars for the two lead characters, everything had me asking, “WHY?!” Why is any of that necessary? Why not just start the film by telling the story rather than with a weird opening that shows us something that happens later in the film? Why make Roy’s avatar an attractive woman (for a reason other than “LOL BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY SINCE HE’S REALLY A DUDE!”)? Nothing in this film made much sense to me, whether it was any of these issues already mentioned or why I was supposed to care about any of the characters or why they made such stupid, obviously incorrect decisions (i.e. apprehending a bad guy and taking him into custody when he obviously wanted to be captured). (I’ll try to minimize my use of the word “why” now…I’m sure you get the idea).

Jeff Bridges does his best Rooster Cogburn impression as Roy: an officer who speaks in a difficult-to-understand “cowboy drawl” with a criticized penchant for killing people rather than capturing them and is also opposed to having a partner. Though Bridges is inherently likable in every role, his general likability doesn’t keep his character here from being lame and uninteresting. Ryan Reynolds, while not necessarily bad, doesn’t bring anything special to the table here, so I didn’t care about him or his wife, even when the two are brought together for what I’m sure is meant to be an “emotional” moment at the end of the film. Kevin Bacon is appropriately sinister as the villain, but, again, his lack of interesting motivation, or anything interesting at all, really, makes his character flat and non-threatening to the audience.

The “jokes” in the film are unfunny (I don’t think I laughed or did anything more than crack a slight smile even once), and the absence of any sort of creativity whatsoever (“deados?” Really?) makes this film fall short of any sort of expectations I had, which, believe it or not, were actually moderately positive. I didn’t expect this film to be super fantastic, but I also didn’t expect it to be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from that, either. I’m pretty sure that my facial expressions while watching alternated between a general scowl and “what the heck.” R.I.P.D. may look slightly entertaining in the trailers, but don’t be fooled; the movie is more dead than the “deados.”

-Chad

Rating: 1.5  (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references