The Ring, One Hour Photo and Double Whammy

The RingWhen The Ring was released, I heard that it was scary. The kind of scary that keeps you up all night, painfully aware of every sound the wind makes outside your bedroom window. That kind of scary.

It’s not.

It wants to be, but it never really manages to move beyond vaguely creepy. The problem is, I can’t put my finger on where it goes wrong. The premise is interesting (watch a videotape, die seven days later), but the execution is rather sloppy. There are appropriately dreary settings, some pseudo-creepy music, and a couple of interesting special effects. There’s a twist at the end that failed because it just isn’t twisty enough. I think movies like The Usual Suspects have ruined twists for me. Now the plot twists must be intricate and imaginative and catch me completely off guard, yet I need to be able to look back at the movie and slap myself in the forehead for not seeing it coming (see: Fight Club). There is some interesting imagery in The Ring most of it (but not all) in the killer videotape. Yet, to paraphrase one of the main characters, even that is very student film-y.

Final verdict: disappointing. Nonetheless, I’m curious to see if the original (Ringu) is any better.

I also saw One Hour Photo and Double Whammy recently. Both were entertaining, each in their own way. The latter is something of a dark comedy while the former is simply dark.

One Hour PhotoRobin Williams is ├╝ber-creepy in an almost invisible way in One Hour Photo. The whole movie feels extremely surreal, and some people might call the ending a bit anti-climactic. I found it interesting, though, that Sy Parrish (Williams) continues to be a sympathetic character to the very last frame, despite the fact that he sometimes feels quite sinister. Gary Cole seems to be made to play a manager (see: Office Space), a profession which has been getting almost as much flak as lawyers of late. Interestingly enough, Cole’s character never comes off as sympathetic in the least, even when it seems that something in his life is threatened.

I was quite pleased with One Hour Photo especially since the trailer I saw led me to make some assumptions about the plot that were shattered when I actually saw the movie. I like trailers that mislead me in this way. I like trailers that don’t make seeing the movie seem redundant. I could rant, but I won’t.

Double WhammyDouble Whammy stars Denis Leary, Elizabeth Hurley, Steve Buscemi, Luiz Guzman, Chris Noth and others. Buscemi is a bit under-used, and that’s about my only complaint. This isn’t a laugh-out-loud movie, but it’s still quite funny. It’s also dark without being overly depressing. Elizabeth Hurley makes a fairly believable chiropractor, which I found amusing. I will say that my chiro has never twisted my neck like that, but that really the only adjustment she made that my chiro hasn’t done to me. Well, except the sex. I’ve never had sex with my chiropractor. Ever. He’s a good-looking man, don’t get me wrong. He’s just no Elizabeth Hurley.

Denis Leary is Denis Leary. He can play a cop or a hood and he really doesn’t have to change his attitude much. Here, though, he’s a much more sensitive Denis Leary. He’s not quite so edgy, and he’s not constantly puffing on a cigarette. Still, he’s Denis Leary, and there’s enough edge and gruffness and smart-assitude (smart-assishness? smart-assivity?) that he’s not relegated to being a wimp.

Double Whammy has a fairly tight and well-woven plot, characters that are interesting (if a bit stereotypical), and some amusing bits of dialog.

“…but I think you got a little bit of racist in you.”
“Whoa! Yo. Bro’! No.”
“… but don’t take it personal, because you’re white and you don’t know any better.”

It’s not an amazing film, and the dialog isn’t Mamet, but it’s satisfying and I enjoyed it, and that’s good enough for me.

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