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February 23, 1996 - Image 75

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-02-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Tabisel is funny and pushy, get-
ting some good laughs out of his
faux-rap number about a "little
white Polish boy from Jersey talk-
ing rap."
Curmudgeonly toy manufac-
turer MacMillan (Jon Cypher) is
so abrasive and loud that we lose
the sense of real wonder and joy
in his surrogate-father relation-
ship with Josh. Gene Weygandt,
as MacMillan's product-develop-
ment head, is a very heavy heavy.
(Even villains can have a snake-
oil charm.)
Crista Moore seems sculpted
out of ice and steel. She's won-
derfully buff; William Ivey Long
has dressed her in little power
suits and purses to match. But she
doesn't melt as the character
changes. If only her music would,
it might help.

In the adults' world, the rela-
tionships seem cardboard. The
show is more vivid in the kids' sec-
tions, in part because choreogra-
pher Susan Stroman uses dance
and a high-energy kids ensemble
to communicate.
The production is visually
bright — a wonderful palette of
mainstream colors and spectacu-
lar sets (the amusement park and
FAO Schwarz toy store, in par-
ticular) by Robin Wagner with
good lighting by Paul Gallo and
handsome costumes by Long —
especially for the kids.
All of the above is pulled to-
gether by director Mike Ockrent
and his creative team. Ockrent
will likely polish the pacing over
the next few weeks —Act I drags,
and the end of Act II is not dra-
matically crystallized, although

the on-stage transformation of
Josh from man to boy is whiz-
bang.
Stroman does nice things with
the wonderful young dancers —
using skateboards and contem-
porary dance styles to great effect.
She has had a jolly time, too, with
the oversized keyboard number
in FAO Schwarz, which will even-
tually peak and, perhaps, become
a minor classic.
Fitful as it is, though, Big has
its charms. People brought chil-
dren to the show, but it is not re-
ally a kids' entertainment; teens
though, may find it attractive,
adults may be entranced by its
wistful moments and Broadway
may give it a run for its money.

c1)
1 11.
—Michael H. Margolin

'Things To Do In Denver
When You're Dead'

Rated R

I

he title notwithstanding,
this movie is actually about
things to do in Denver be-
fore you are dead, specifi-
cally if you are a gangster.
Andy Garcia stars as Jimmy
the Saint, a former wise guy try-
ing to go legitimate in both his
professional and personal affairs.
Jimmy's aspirations are
dashed when he is summoned
back to the family at the behest
of the Man with a Plan, a quad-
riplegic crime lord played with
typical zeal by Christopher
Walken. See, the Man needs Jim- Gabrielle Anwar is a ski instructor
my to do an "action," not a "job"; involved in a budding romance with
the former involves bullies; the Andy Garcia.
latter requires bullets. For this
assignment, the only purpose is the "action" becomes a "job." Jim-
to scare. To carry out his orders, my can be spared from Christo-
Jimmy assembles a crew of ex- pher Walken's wrath, but only if
he leaves Denver, his girl
cons, including William
and his crew behind.
Forsythe, Christopher
MOVIES
The strength of this film
Lloyd and Treat
is in the power of its cast.
Williams. Like Reservoir
Dogs, each man has a checkered Garcia has mastered the role of
the brooding, romantic introvert;
past and a nifty nickname.
Things go terribly awry when and Walken can provoke the

willies with the simplest glance
or gesture. The underappreciat-
ed Treat Williams does a terrif-
ic turn as a hot-tempered thug
and nearly out-creeps Walken.
The various performances do
justice to a script that is taut, tex-
tured and tense. A great cast,
good screenplay and compelling
story should make for an unfor-
gettable movie, right? Not nec-
essarily. This is a film where the
structure is solid, but the foun-
dation is a bit shaky. The entire
premise of the film is based on
the notion that the inherent de-
cency in Garcia's character pre-
vents him from acting for his own
best interests; but his motivation
goes unexplored.
Is he an honorable man or a
criminal? Is he full of contradic-
tions or just conflict? If we could
understand him better we could
figure out what prevents him
from leaving Denver. The only
thing we know for sure is that it
isn't the slopes.

c1 1 .1 r- )
-Richard Halprin

eek after week on her
eponymous TV show,
Ellen DeGeneres finds
herself in a sticky situ-
ation, which she always hilari-
ously wriggles her way out of
/---) it. So, it's nothing short of
tragic that DeGeneres' first film
is a feature-length production

W

that does nothing to show alizes on her own that she is
case her genius for physical com- lonely. She then meets up with
edy and great flair for the ab- a rich and seemingly sensitive
guy, Whitman Crawford
surd.
(Bill Pullman), who is
When she read the
MOVIES
not only wrong, but
script for Mr. Wrong, De-
deeply troubled.
Generes should have bolt-
Bill Pullman skillfully plays
ed. She plays Martha Alston, a
serious TV talk-show talent co- a major creep in the film, but
ordinator who, despite prodding poor Ellen: she flounders around
by her well-meaning parents, re- in a story that is more a psycho-

avoid guys like
Whitman. 1
/

—Julie Edgar

'Happy Gilmore'

S

'Mr. Wrong'

Rated PG-13

logical drama than a mad-
cap comedy about mar-
riage and singledom in the
'90s. Her wincing and gri-
macing are telltale signs
that she knows this isn't a
funny story.
The producers and writ-
ers, however, didn't seem
to realize that they com-
mitted a serious gaffe by
making light of a scenario
that has left too many
women dead or injured.
Mr. Wrong deserves to
die an excruciating death
at the box office or, better, Ellen DeGeneres
it could be used as an in- makes her film debut
structional film at schools in Mr. Wrong.
about stalking and how to

ness and blue-collar attitude to-
ward the game and plots against
him.
Happy's premise has about as
much depth as one of
those beer commer-
cials featuring hybrid
MOVIES
sports like full contact
bikini bowling. But that's not to
say it's not funny. Sandler is win-
ning as a quick-tempered hock-
ey numbskull who turns the
mannered world of golf on its ear.

aturday Night Live's"
Adam Sandler ("The
Chanukah Song") meets
Max Sennett's Key-
stone Cops and the by-prod-
uct is Happy Gilmore, a
"slap-shtick" comedy.
Gilmore, as played by Sandler,
is a hapless hockey player who
possesses a withering slapshot
but no ankles — he can't skate to
save his life. Letting senti-
ments substitute for plot,
Happy embarks on a mission
to save his doddering grand-
ma from a sweatshop rest
home after her house is re-
possessed by the IRS. The
home is rim by a mustachioed
attendant who looks like the
late Freddie Mercury of the
operatic rock group Queen
bulked up in surgical scrubs.
By circumstance, Happy
discovers he can drive a golf
ball 400 yards. So to earn
some fast bucks to save Adam Sandler is Happy Gilmore. High-
Grandma's house, he joins the sticking on the golf course?
pro golf tour. His awesome
drives, from tee to green as In one rollicking sequence, he
viewed from a golf ball's point of dukes it out with his pro-am part-
view, are a spectacle to behold. ner, the "Price Is Right's" Bob
Moreover, Happy's unadulterat- Barker. Barker's cameo is as fun-
ed enthusiasm for his game — ny as some of Leslie Nielson's
galloping across the fairway with best bits in the Naked Gun se-
a golf stick "pony" straddled be- ries. And if they gave comedy
tween his legs, yelling, "He awards for off-the-wall direction,
shoots; he scores!" after he sinks check out the category for "Best
a putt — attracts the attention Lip Sync by a Zamboni operator."
of a new (half) breed of pro golf-
-Ow
tour spectators. Instead of
"Arnie's Army," we get Jerry Gar-
—Dick Rockwell
cia's "Deadheads."
The tour's public-relations di-
rector (Julie Bowen) sees Happy
as a crowd pleaser, someone who
will draw fans with his antics. If

Bagel Barometer

only he can learn a bit of course
etiquette, he'll be golfs answer to
basketball's Dennis Rodman.
Shooter McGavin (Christopher
McDonald), the reigning pretty
boy pro, thinks otherwise. Mc-
Gavin resents Happy's uncouth-

Outstanding

Very Good

Good

Fair

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