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September 08, 2003 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-08

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September 8,2003




By Jannie Adler
For the Daily

Dark 'Order' too tall for Ledger
By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer

In the opening voice-over of Brian
Helgeland's "The Order," the ever-
insightful Father Alex Bernier (Heath
Ledger, "A Knight's Tale") likens life
itself to a riddle - confusing and
unpredictable in each and every turn it
takes. Ironically, I left the theatre with

The first hint of just how promising
this movie would be was the fact that
no one would see it with me - not
even with an offer to pay for a friend.
"Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star"
directed by Sam Weisman and co-
written by and starring David Spade,
enters the world of Corey Feldman
and Gary Coleman, among others -
the life of a former child star. "Dickie
Roberts" acts as a tribute to all those
names we grew up with but then so
quickly forgot. ____________
Presented as
an "E True Hol- Dickie
lywood Story," Roberts
the film may just At Quality 16 and
as well have Showcase
been "Where Paramount
Are They Now?"
Spade stars as Dickie, a washed-out
child star with nothing but a valet's
job and the memories of his signature
phrase, "This is nucking flts." Dickie,
wanting so desperately to make a
comeback, hears about a film project
directed by Rob Reiner (which may
well have a better plot than "Dickie
Roberts" itself). The problem is, Rein-
er won't cast Dickie because he grew
up too fast. Dickie, then, has the
ingenious idea to pay a family to help
him relive his childhood.
With the help of his agent, Sydney
(Jon Lovitz), and some cash from his
compelling autobiography, Dickie
finds a home with the Tracy family.
The plot continues on with a string of
strange and random events that make
the film all the more ludicrous: Dick-
ie bathes a dead rabbit, Sydney
donates a kidney to Reiner and Dick-
ie's father may just be David Soul
(better know as Starsky).

a strikingly similar
thought in mind
about the film I'd
just seen.
and the film's
production notes

The Order
At Madstone and
Quality 16
20th Century Fox

ourtsyoIr Faram ount

Hello, I'm Earth. Have we met?
The characters seem predictable,
despite their quirks. George Tracy
(Craig Bierko), head of the household
that takes Dickie in, is a used-car
salesman with a money-grubbing phi-
losophy about pots. The son and
daughter (appropriately named Sally
and Sam) are too hopped up on sug-
ary root beer to have ever heard of
Candyland, despite their familiarity
with Transformers and Mouse Trap.
And the mother, Grace (Mary McCor-
mack), seems shockingly comfortable
pushing a full grown man around
town in a stroller.
"Dickie Roberts" ends up being a
mix of off-the-wall characters, sappy
life-altering moments and David

slated "The Order" to be a dark, tense
tale of malevolence within a covert,
rogue body of Catholic priests. Liter-
ally, the film is dark: Roman and
Venetian backdrops evoke images of
Medieval Europe; however, in all
other regards, the expectations are
hardly fulfilled.
"The Order" was originally the
brainchild of director Helgeland ("A
Knight's Tale"), who researched thor-
oughly the sin-eating priests of histori-
cal Europe. Supposedly, they were God
by proxy, inasmuch as they could
absolve a person's sins and save those
otherwise damned souls.
Helgeland's effort evinces his
knowledge for his subject and atten-
tion to detail in portraying it, but it
also lacks thrill and any semblance of
an interesting storyline - the cake
onto which his fancy icing should
have gone.
Ledger's Father Bernier is one of the
remaining few Carolingians - a tradi-
tional priestly order called to exorcis-
ing demons and evil spirits. Upon the
death of their leader, Bernier and his
close friend and colleague, Father
Thomas Garrett (Mark Addy, "The
Full Monty"), begin an entrapping
investigation of sin-eating priests and
their dark history.
One would think that a head-first
plunge into the cultish underworld of
conjuring clergy would be enough to
sustain an edgy thriller. "The Order,"
however, becomes much too sublime
for its own good and loses viewers in
an onslaught of incoherent tangents

and needless philosophy.
Take, for example, Bernier's relation-
ship with the woman who once
attempted to kill him, Mara Sinclair
(Shannyn Sossamon, "The Rules of
Attraction"). The two fall in love as
Bernier involves himself more and
more in his investigation and loses faith
in his vocation and his life's calling.
Sure, a love interest is a very logical
reason for a priest to reconsider his
lifestyle, but the approach is too high-
falutin. Scenes are spent doting on the

Courtesy O n th Century Fox
You have been weighed, you have been measured and you have been found wanting.

lovers' comparison of their relationship
to a sunflower and on other thoughtful
but irrelevant abstractions like essen-
tial truth and beauty.
The suspense is lackluster enough to
inspire yawns and frequent glances at
the watch. Couldn't people's sins be
something more visually interesting
than a wispy, jellyfish-like haze? Who
would've thought that watching some-
one devour another's transgressions
could be such an uninteresting and un-
terrifying experience?

Spade antics. Spade's character is a
trash-talking, sprinkler-impersonat-
ing, immature adult, sporting a mon-
key print pajama jumper. Since
they're not so well represented by
Spade, the former.child stars make
sure they get their 15 minutes of fame
with a closing song, "Child Stars on
your Television."
Dragging out the old cliches of
Hollywood, the film is nothing short
of exploding cars and alcoholic actors.
Dickie is just a fictional version of
David Spade; the film would have
been better off with an actual former
child star as the lead. This film,
among other things, needs a little

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