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PHONE BOOTH or "Profit Margins are made Between Costs and Sales"

STARRING: Collin Farrel, Keifer Sutherland’s voice, Forest Whittiker

RUNNING TIME: Hardly noticed but probably close to filming time.

OVERALL: Highly Rentable.

WATCHED: As relaxation on Saturday, August 9th, 2003 on CD, in my cool basement, hiding from the heat for something in the vicinity of $3.00 excluding snacks.

REVIEW: This movie killed a few hours of my life for a reasonably cheap price. It was fairly intense and Collin Farrell (can someone make a movie that he isn’t in) did a great job. Too bad no one else did.

The only thing I hated about this movie was that it tried too hard to be a movie about a guy  who realizes that he is shallow, comes to grips with that and grows as a person. While trying hard to do this it did not try very hard to be a movie about a guy trapped in a phone booth by a sniper. In fact, it was as if the director was so caught up in the "Farrell becomes a good guy" aspect of the movie that he or she (I do not care who directed it) totally missed the fact that this guy is trapped in a phone booth by a sniper. This gave Forest Whittiker (who was really the only other person in this movie who could not be described as an "extra") nothing to work with. He tried.  We know he tried. We could see it on his face. However, it appears that no one involved in the movie was interested in much other than the blatent moral lesson that this movie was trying so desperately to make. A moral lesson that was, I might add, as subtle as a brick to the head - but not half as exciting or compelling.

In my mind movies have at least two choices: either (a) the audience should relate to the movie, or (b) the audience should be entertained by the movie. This movie was entertaining despite the time spent on character "development" but I must ask: what would compel someone to make a character development movie about a character that virtually no one can relate to, in a situation that no one will ever be in, who comes to a conclusion that everyone already knows. No one but the director is going to come out of this movie thinking that they learned how to be a good person and what value that goodness has. This movie is not going to change the lives of phonies who cheat on their wives because the lesson this guy learns is at the end of a gun. Sure, if I were at the end of a gun I might learn a lesson or two but I am probably not ever going to be in that situation so who cares.

I can see yahoos coming out of this movie saying "shit yeah, I’d give up my mistress under those circumstances (chuckle) under THOSE circumstances..." but, really, who is ever going to be there. What can the average joe really learn from this movie that appeared to be trying so damn hard to teach us something? Not to answer pay-phones? To be a better person? To rent a better movie?

Despite the efforts to achieve the sort of moral respectability usually reserved for independent films, I would not avoid renting this movie if you have a few hours to kill.

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