Review Date: August 19, 2002
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Producers: Andrew Niccol
Al Pacino as Viktor Taransky
Catherine Keener as Elaine Christian
Evan Rachel Wood as Lainey
From a programming perspective alone...they just didn't sell me on it (how did he manage to have her speak like him or move her limbs like him or cry like him or learn such an obviously complex program so quickly?) I also didn't go for all the Stooge-like pranks, like when Pacino dressed up a doll and made her drive a car on a highway. C'mon man...give the friggin' audience some credit! That shit don't fly anymore. If you're going to have us believing this fantastic premise (which I bought for the most part), don't be taking it over the top and expecting us to tag along just because you "say so". Convince me...make me a complete believer. That's not to say that the film doesn't have its share of clever moments, because some of the dialogue is actually quite biting of the whole Hollywood community and I did laugh out loud on a couple of occasions. The whole daughter angle was also well handled, and played particularly sweetly by the young Evan Rachel Wood, while the Keener/Pacino chemistry was unremarkably "dead in the water". Other solid actors like Jay Mohr and Jason Schwartzman were also entirely wasted and a useless subplot about a couple of tabloid reporters on the prowl was a complete time-waster and altogether mishandled.
Overall, the picture was interesting enough for someone like me because it was about the business that I love...which is the business of movies. I've always enjoyed watching films about the behind-the-scenes process of making movies and this one was no different, especially with one of my favorite actors at the helm. Having said that, the film ultimately didn't deliver enough balls to back its ballsy premise, and even though it did deliver some funnies, it spent too much time re-iterating the same idea over and over again and outlasted its stay at two hours. Check it out on video if only for the quirky foundation behind the story, the wicked Winona Ryder cameo, the computer babe who kinda co-stars in it (the character is actually based on real-live Canadian model, Rachel Roberts, with a few computer touch-ups-her acting wasn't that great though, which made her worldwide popularity seem that much more unbelievable) and some decent jabs at the industry. Oh yeah, and what was with all of the different filters used to shoot the film? You ain't Steven Soderbergh just yet, Mr. Niccol...leave the blue/yellow/green filters at home next time...the only thing they turned out to be here was a distraction.