June 10 - 16, 2002

Summer Sludge
In Bad

ABC Does The

O'Neal Dominates...

Five Company



Undercover Brother Boogies...

Our Take On The New Star Wars...

Richard Gere Blinks Through Unfaithful...

Woody and Spidey Duke It Out...

Jason Returns. Really....

Sad Company
Summer has finally pounced on the Naked City, rendering us sweaty, messy and cranky. Summer in the concrete jungle is particularly draining, since there's nowhere for all that heat to go. It's hard to work up much energy or enthusiasm sometimes, and movies like Bad Company don't make it any easier.

For starters, there's the acute temptation to take the idle route and coast on the movie's title. Good Lord, what possessed the brain trust at Touchstone Pictures' marketing department to give this exercise in mediocrity a name with "bad" in it? Did they not see the thing before releasing it? Bad Company is one of those painfully formulaic action-in-genre-name-only movies that limp into theaters in the summer, when studios know you'll watch anything just to sit in arctic air-conditioning for a couple hours. At 117 minutes, Bad Company is pretty long for an "action(tm)" movie, and before it's over you'll feel every interminable second of that length.

It starts engagingly enough: beautiful footage of Prague, shot by ace cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, underscored with some nicely dissonant music. Enter Chris Rock as Kevin Pope, a CIA agent posing as an antiquities dealer while trying to broker a nuke deal between Anthony Hopkins and some scuzzy Eurotrash. It's all downhill from there.

Pope gets shot in an ambush by a rival nuke-shopping gang before the deal goes through, necessitating the use of that classic lazy-screenwriter standby, the long-lost twin. Enter Chris Rock as Jake Hayes, a New York ticket broker and chess hustler who's on the verge of losing his long-time girlfriend to gainful employment on the west coast. When he's recruited by the CIA nine days before the deal has to go down, Jake has street smarts and a damn good chess game, but lacks Kevin's finesse, necessitating that classic lazy-screenwriter standby, the makeover. Over the course of his training, Jake has to work with Agent Oakes (Hopkins), despite their vast differences, necessitating yet another classic lazy-screenwriter standby, the mismatched buddies. We started to wonder if any actual human beings had been involved in the screenplay, or if some unpaid intern had just typed "Chris Rock," "Anthony Hopkins" and "terrorists" into some Univac-like script machine.

Of course, when we envision the script-machine scenario, we imagine klaxon noises and lots of smoke erupting from the machine as it frantically spews out page after page saying, "Rock and Hopkins chemistry does not compute!" Because it most definitely doesn't. Most of the time Hopkins seems dimly aware that he's sharing the screen with someone else, despite the volume with which Rock yells most of his lines in Hopkins' general direction. Hell, Sir Tony had more spark in those Will Rogers Foundation spots he did last summer than he does here, driving very obviously unmarked government vehicles, shooting various guns and actually mumbling for Rock to "get in the car, bitch." Twice.

If you're shaking your head and saying, "it can't possibly be that dumb," let us remind you: it's a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Remember Armageddon? The Rock? Pearl Freaking Harbor? There is nary a stone of stupidity left unturned. That Bad Company is directed by Joel Schumacher, who recently all but killed the Batman franchise, is an almost-redundant nail in its coffin.

Even that magnificent air conditioning couldn't minimize our annoyance. Two hours of wasted time, to say nothing of the energy it takes to rant about dreck like this. Thank heavens the Scotch-sicles are doing their job.



At some point, will someone stop Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay and their ilk from making "summer blockbusters"?

No. Coming to a theater near you: Vanessa Williams and Angelina Jolie in bustier-popping action, starring in The Tsarina's Horse.

Yes. Once they all die, they will make Public Service Announcements in hell.

Last Week's Poll:
Can there be a "satirical" movie made without two beautiful women winding up in a catfight and, optionally, a shower (as in Undercover Brother)?

No. (45%) It would be like a day without sunshine.

Yes. (54%) I heard some dude in Sweden tried it in his movie, but the CIA had him executed before the film could be released.