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Hide and Seek (2005)
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Review Date: February 02, 2005
Director: John Polson
Writer: Ari Schlossberg
Producers: Barry Josephson
Actors:
Robert DeNiro as David
Dakota Fanning as Emily
Famke Janssen as Katherine
Plot:
A widowed father moves his daughter from the big city and into a small town of about 2,000 people, in order to help her re-adjust to life after the death of her mom. His plan doesn’t work out so well though, as his creepy-looking daughter soon befriends an imaginary friend named “Charlie” who doesn’t much care for the father and actually likes to piss him off. Lots of hiding and seeking ensue.
Critique:
I love a good mystery as much as the next guy, but if you’re gonna string me along by the nose for an hour and a half, you better make sure that once you give me the goods, it all adds up to something that makes sense, and doesn’t “cheat” me out of my investment in the characters and the movie to that point. HIDE AND SEEK has a decent set-up, an atmospheric and creepy build-up and two actors engaging enough to want to watch for an hour and a half, but at the end of the day, the film is all about the mystery behind the child’s odd behavior and if the entire movie builds itself around that bizarre conduct, I want to be given a satisfactory solution to my own queries along the way, not some half-assed ending that gives you an interesting solution, but not one that satisfies on most levels. I don’t normally like to concentrate on one part of a movie so much, but in the case of this film, the studio itself also promoted it with the idea that the “ending” had to be kept top-secret and delivered by security guards to the theaters, etc… The film is also pretty redundant and slow-moving after a while, with the basic premise being established, followed by a ton of odd behavior and actions by the little girl. Of course, the dad in this case, the great Robert DeNiro downplaying his role here, seems to be either the most sensitive father in the world, a man who simply doesn’t want to upset his daughter any more than she already is, or the dumbest dad/psychiatrist in the world, as a zillion signs that his daughter is obviously deeply disturbed, don’t seem to stir in him, any need for immediate reaction or external help.

Also, if you’re doing to move to a small town in order to help your daughter forget about her mom’s death, how about jazzing shit up a little, man? Turn some lights on around the house, stop spending so much time by yourself in a room with speakers glued to your eardrums, and for the love of Travis Bickle, hug and kiss your girl every now and again. This guy must’ve been either the boringest dad in the world, or very simply…the boringest man…period! How Elisabeth Shue’s character saw anything in him is beyond me! All that said, I was never entirely bored while watching this film, mostly due to the uber-creepy performance put forth by the always-impressive Dakota Fanning, who continues to amaze with an eerie showing, beyond her years (love the black hair too). Just looking at her creeped me out. What a weirdo. Unfortunately for the audience, not much else happens in the movie, other than the continued interaction between father and daughter, and even though a few flashbacks and the addition of Famke Janssen and the aforementioned Shue spice things up a little, at the end of the day, you’re basically just trying to figure out why this little girl is so messed up, and once discovered, it’s really not all that fulfilling. In fact, I just wanted the film to end soon thereafter, but it just kept going and going and going after that. A character in the film also utters its title at about the most inappropriate time possible, adding giggles to a scenario that should have been leading to frights. One thing I will give up to the filmmakers, particularly John Ottman, is an excellent score that also helped ease me into the film’s overall sense of the skewed. That said, you really gotta deliver when you build things up through such an elongated set-up, and in the case of this film, it just didn’t come through in the end. Still might be a decent popcorn muncher on a bored, winter night though.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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1:22AM on 07/25/2005

Terrific first hour and fifteen minutes and then…

When I first seen the trailer for “Hide and Seek” about 3 months or so ago, I have to admit it intrigued my interest right from the get go. So finally today January 28, 2005 “Hide and Seek” arrived in theaters. Before I go to any movie just for the hell of it, I usually look at what the critics say about the movie. “Hide & Seek” got pretty average to below average reviews but almost every thriller even the terrific “Saw” got average to below average to reviews. But hey at least it wasn’t like
When I first seen the trailer for “Hide and Seek” about 3 months or so ago, I have to admit it intrigued my interest right from the get go. So finally today January 28, 2005 “Hide and Seek” arrived in theaters. Before I go to any movie just for the hell of it, I usually look at what the critics say about the movie. “Hide & Seek” got pretty average to below average reviews but almost every thriller even the terrific “Saw” got average to below average to reviews. But hey at least it wasn’t like “Alone in the Dark” which got awful reviews and will probably be runner up for worst movie of the year along with "Elektra." But anyway back onto topic, I went to see “Hide and Seek” at the 1:15pm showing this afternoon before the crowd of annoying teenagers hit later that evening and below is what I thought about the film.

“Hide and Seek” stars Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning, one of which who is an aging star who seems to star in about five movies a year and only one of those tend to be half way decent. The other is a child star that will continue to rise in the future. “Hide and Seek” is a movie about a family who on the surface seems to be happy but then deep down there not. The husband David (Robert De Niro) and his wife Alison (Amy Irving) have been fighting and then one night as they go to bed, Alison wakes up and kills herself. David wakes up and goes to the bathroom where he finds his wife dead. While David tries to check to see if she is alive, his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) walks in and sees mommy dead. Emily is then traumatized and David thinks it would be best for them to move out of the house so that they don’t have to remember the horrific event that occurred there. But it’s not until David and Emily move to this new town when Emily meets her imaginary friend Charlie and then weird things begin to happen. An intense movie ensues…

All I have to say is that WOW this movie could have been terrific. I mean just terrific because for the first hour and say fifteen minutes, I was hooked. This creepy little girl was really interesting. And who the hell is this Charlie she keeps talking about? I mean intense. Then all of a sudden the twist occurs and that’s when the movie lost me. I swear I thought I knew the outcome at the beginning of the movie say 2 minutes in but I was no that’s too simple it can’t be the ending. Sadly, it was and it pissed me off because I wanted it to be different. Hey even if it was like I first thought it was, it still could have been better executed. What the hell happened? Everyone in the theater was involved even the two little girls who paid to see “Fat Albert” but then snuck into “Hide and Seek” were hooked on the movie but then it got stupid and I am sorry I have to say that stupid! And that’s when it lost the entire audience. Laughing started and the whole intense atmosphere of the movie was gone. Even I had to chuckle a little bit at it because wow how typical could you make it. Just sitting here now can thing of more than one way to have made the movie work. I mean several ways, which I am not going to write out because I don’t want to really spoil the movie for anyone but seriously what the hell happened in the last 20 minutes?

For once in quite some time, I really thought Robert De Niro had a good role. I am talking about a good serious role because the man has been in some crap over the past few years. The only thing I liked him in was “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers” but hey those aren't the roles Mr. De Niro was became famous for playing but they were decent at least compared to the other crap he was involved in. For the first hour and fifteen minutes of the movie, Robert De Niro’s acting was good and very believable. You liked the character, you felt bad for all what happened to him, it was a good role for him but like I said after that hour and some odd minutes it was just bad, I mean laughable bad. It went from a well-written serious character to a joke. Dakota Fanning, on the other hand, was actually good all the way though even when the movie got bad. She freaked me out the whole movie and why people in the film were calling her cute was beyond me because she was scary looking. I have to give her a bravo for her role though. There were a few supporting roles like Famke Janseen who played Katherine who was friends with David, Elisabeth Shue who played David’s new interest in life after his wife’s death, and Dylan Baker who played the sheriff. All of them did a decent job but none of them were really important only De Niro and Fanning.

“Hide and Seek” was written by Ari Schlossberg who wrote the film “Lucky 13” which is not out on video yet and was in such limited release no one got to see it. But other that, Ari Schlossberg is a first time screenwriter. What I have to ask is what happened with the script here buddy? I mean, a really good script until the last 15 pages. What happened? You had good characters, good plot, good pace, good action, and then all of a sudden you just seemed to give up. Why?? Why did you pull out the book on how to make a lame thriller? Why did you do that? You could have had the best thriller of the year but no you decided hey I want to screw up in the end. The writer had to know what he was doing because the movie was good for the first 85% of it. Ahh it angers me.

John Polson is the director on this film. The only other movie I seen of his was “Swimfan” which had a great trailer but was an average movie. Mr. Polson had a good view of this film. The setting was very good, the way he viewed the characters, the way he developed the suspense. But why didn’t he say something about the ending? I mean excuse me Ari we need to talk about the ending. The movie is great but I think we need to work on this ending. This could be a great film for the both of us if you fix that ending. Why was there no talk about this? Even if they filmed the damn thing and then watched it as a whole they could have figured out something to make the film end better because I could just sitting here right now.

In conclusion, I can’t express enough how much the ending pissed me off. I WANTED to like this movie, I really did because it had so much going for it and like I said several times already it was all going good until the last twenty minutes and then it went down the crapper. I know this because when the laughing starts in a theater and your not watching a comedy or something that’s supposed to be remotely funny you have a problem. Especially when your at the film's serious climax and that occurs and that only means one thing, you lost the audience! I think this film was even more of a let down for me because of the way I predicted the idiotic ending about 2 minutes in and was just hoping I was wrong. I think that’s what made me hate the ending even more. The film had so much potential and had such a good story but I’m sorry the movie really just got messed up in the end. I would have to say go see this at the matinee or wait for video. Just do yourself a favor and don’t think of the most predictable or obvious answer to the film because then you will just be as mad as I was.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Hide and Seek is a 5/10. Great pace, good acting, good story but lousy ending.
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