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July 17, 2006 - Image 10

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-17

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j

10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 17, 2006

'AScanner Darkly'
hardly shimmers
By Mary Kate Varnau With "A Scanner Darkly," Linklater revives
Daily Arts Writer an animation technique from his 2001 feature,
"Waking Life.' The film is rhotoscoped, filmed in
F___LM __EV ___EW____ _ real time with real actors and sets, then "painted"
over in post-production. The question is: Why?
Another Philip K. Dick story has been adapted Rhotoscoping was integral to the exploratory,
for the screen, and this time it's by one of indepen- philosophical nature of "Waking Life." It provid-
dent film's most promising directors, Richard Lin- ed Linklater with the room to portray his char-
klater ("Fast Food Nation"). acters and settings in a way that challenged the-
Their collective fanbase has audience to reevaluate their ideas of perception.
been anticipating this week- A Scanner The animation of "A Scanner Darkly" helps to
end, with art theaters gearing Darkly produce the unreality that comes along with the
up for the droves of intellectu- At the main character's (and what feels like the world's)
*Is.But high expectations may Michigan Theater addiction. But it also deprives the audience of an
give way to disappointment in Warner Independent immediacy that could have lent the film a much-
this very low-key adaptation needed feeling of command.
of a high-impact story. Like every Linklater production, the film moves
"A Scanner Darkly" takes place in 2013 Anna- quickly. We're rapidly introduced to new ideas and
heim, where 20 percent of the population has subtle plot twists that make you question what we
become addicted to a new drug, "substance D." thought we knew about the story. With material this
Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arcter, an undercover cop urgent, the viewer should be on the edge of her seat.
with a shady past that's neverquite explained, whose But something is missing.
mission isnto climb the drug world's ladder in search The film's epilogue, a dedication by Philip K.
of its kingpin. In the name of duty, Arcter becomes Dick, rolls in silence before the credits. It's a devo-
addicted to the very drug he is attempting to eradi- tional message for the author's friends who he lost
cate, and the film descends into the dark recesses of to drugs. And it is by far the most penetrating, most
his deteriorating mind. effective moment of the film.

a

"Be excellent to ... something."
"A Scanner Darkly" is clearly a labor of
love for Linklater. There's an obvious passion
behind the product, and the director is draw-
ing from brilliant source material; the acting
is competent, and the film intelligently ren-
dered. Somehow, it just doesn't grab hold of
the audience like it should. It's not a yawner;
Linklater keeps us interested, but in a passive,
pedestrian way.

The film is adapted faithfully from the original
text, which is as much an positive attribute as it is
the film's biggest hindrance. Linklater has made a
reliable name for himself in the independent film
world, and "A Scanner Darkly" is a success, but
fiction does not work in the same way as film, and
while the movie's closeness to its source is valu-
able, Dick's narrative should have been the founda-
tion, not the realization, of the project.

'Little Man,' no success

By Scott Bell
Daily Arts Writer
At least people will stop talking about
how bad "White Chicks" was.
For as much of a failure as "Little
Man" is on nearly every level, the movie
is a rousing success
on one front: The Little Man
Wayans clan (the
film stars brothers At the Showcase
Marlon and Shawn and Quality 16
and was directed Revolution
by brother Keenan
ivory) used the movie as a vehicle to prove
that they can be consistent.
But on second thought, making con-
sistently horrible movies with ridiculous
premises and laughable lead characters
might not quite be the excellence they
were striving for.
After "White Chicks," few would
think that the brothers could outdo trying

to sell themselves as two white females.
But here is "Little Man," a movie with an
even more unrealistic premise, and yet
they still try to sell it as believable. The
audience won't be as gullible as Darryl
and Vanessa Edwards (Shawn Wayans
and Kerry Washington), who somehow
aren't the least bit suspicious of Calvin
Sims (Marlon Wayans), a criminal pos-
ing as a baby who suddenly appears on
their doorstep to retrieve a stolen dia-
mond. And this isn't just any baby -
this baby can play tackle football, beat
up dinosaurs, steal cars and, of course,
sexually satisfy Vanessa, all while still
remaining incognito and not waving
even the slightest of red flags in front of
the Edwards family.
Factor in Calvin's fully grown molars,
his tattoo, his missing appendix and his
eerie strength, and it leaves the viewer
to wonder if the Wayans were purposely
trying to flaw the movie in fear of cin-
ematic success.
As a comedy, the film shouldn't hinge

on its believability. Many successful mov-
ies have had horrible plots saved by funny
gags and good individual performances.
"Little Man" must have missed that
memo, too.
If you enjoy kick-to-the-groin humor,
this will be your holy grail. And if you
have a short attention span and might
miss the first few, don't worry, you'll get
a chance to see many more of them --I
stopped keeping track when I ran out of
digits to count with.
A handful of the jokes do work, but
when your movie is a series of gags strung
together for 100 minutes, you're bound to
have accidents of success. The film's gags
have a hit-to-miss ratio bad enough to
make Shaquille O'Neal's free-throw per-
centage look impressive.
A last-ditch attempt at sentimental-
ity just adds to the confusion. A com-
edy without laughs that tries turning
something that is honestly creepy into a
quasi-heartwarming story ends up leav-
ing the average viewer wishing he could

"So, I can't really tell you and your brother apart. And I don't care."
be the recipient of one of the movie's their commissions as unique opportunities
many groin kicks in exchange for not to push the envelope of inanity. The days
having to sit through another movie like of "Don't Be a Menace to South Central
"Little Man" again. While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood"
The brothers Wayans seem to view are gone, folks.

rm

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