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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

APRIL 13, 1998: 

GINGERBREAD MAN. Director Robert Altman evokes a dark, gothic vision of the South in this adaptation of a John Grisham story. Kenneth Branaugh plays a lawyer who gets himself involved with a spooky waitress with a deranged stalker father. He tries to save her, but, predictably, she's not the helpless waif he thinks she is. The atmosphere in this movie is wonderful; a hurricane named Geraldo threatens the cast from beginning to end, and the countryside is perpetually choking on ash-colored Spanish moss. But the plot is limp and inconsistent, and isn't it time that we all faced the fact that lawyers make lousy heroes? --Richter

LOST IN SPACE. A family of scientists is sent into space with insufficient dialogue to fight alien spiders and plot-holes. The first half-hour is comically stupid, but boredom sets in after all the cute lines from the original television series have been used up. Nonetheless, this film deserves a special award for least cohesive cast: Putting Matt Leblanc, Mimi Rogers, William Hurt and Gary Oldman together is like casting Moe Howard, Katherine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier and the Great Glildersleeve in a remake of Dracula Vs The Wolfman. Be sure to keep track of the ratio of real dialogue to expository lines: For every "Watch out for the killer robot!" there's five "If my father wasn't a war hero I would have been able to lend emotional support to my son Billy Jr. when he was growing up as a boy genius in the ecologically challenged world we are forced to live in...." --DiGiovanna

MERCURY RISING. Looking for something completely unchallenging? Mercury Rising awaits. Not only do Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin play clones of their past roles (as hero and villain, respectively), but the film lifts key elements from such familiar territory as Rain Man, Three Days of the Condor, Witness and War Games. The resulting story has Willis running around trying to prevent the assassination of a hapless Rain Kid who has inadvertently cracked a billion-dollar government code. This nonsense barely holds together, yet the film does supply some small pleasures. The supporting cast of assassins and encryption geeks has amusing moments, Willis shows delightful restraint and Baldwin is thoroughly watchable as blue-eyed evil in a suit. The two leads' few scenes together (during which Willis manages to interrupt one of Baldwin's typically arrogant speeches with a swift kick to the chest) satisfy nicely. Maybe I'm just a sucker for movies with John Barry soundtracks, but Mercury Rising could have been a lot worse. --Woodruff

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