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Who's in It: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, Deborah Kara Unger, Benjamin McKenzie

The Basics: Al has 88 minutes to solve his own impending murder. So many suspects! So many motives! So much Saw-voiced guy saying "tick-tock" on Al's phone! So much killing of PYTs! So much Hawaiian Tropic Tan and confusing hair on Al's head! So predictable and dumb! So what!

What's the Deal? I wish this movie were fantastically warped and insanely bad in that way that's still a kind of gross fun. But it's just grueling instead. And worse, it's full of itself. It thinks it's smarter, darker and more complicated than it is. And that's the real crime.

Featuring the Wasted Talents Of: Indie film staple Deborah Kara Unger, who always gets misused in rotten movies like this. It's like they hire her because she can communicate cool detachment, almost like she's underwater all the time (see her do that nonstop in David Cronenberg's amazing cars-and-sex movie Crash), and then they put her in these overheated moron-fests. Get paid, Deborah Kara Unger!

How Long Is It Really? 105 minutes. That's 17 extra minutes of non-real-time running out for Al's character. Time may have already run out for Al's career, however, if he keeps accepting roles in these kinds of crap sandwiches.

The Moral of the Movie: Well, almost all the suspects, sluts (not counting Al) and amoral people in the movie are ladies. So I guess the message is that they are all she-devils who should be strung up and gutted. Great.



CRITICS' REVIEWS
SOURCE RATING THE GIST
NEGATIVE REVIEWS FOR 88 MINUTES
Chicago Tribune1 star/4"… a serial killer movie starring Al Pacino's festival of hair."
Entertainment WeeklyF"… a stinker …"
Hollywood ReporterN/A"… nonsensical, exposition-heavy script …"
MSNBCN/A"… the movie is a disappointment even at being a disappointment."
New York TimesN/A"… often laugh-out-loud laughably bad …"
Onion A.V. ClubD-"Why is Al Pacino in 88 Minutes?"
TV Guide1 star/4"… a preposterous misfire."
USA Today1 star/4"An inane thriller …"
VarietyN/A"… Al Pacino's career worst."
Village VoiceN/A"… an ugly specimen on just about every front …"

by Dave White

Who's in It: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano

The Basics: More Karate Kidness. But unlike in the recent Never Back Down, this time you actually get Li and Chan to teach the boy how to kung-fu his way to glorious victory over the bad guy.

What's the Deal? So Li finally meets Chan on screen. And, yeah, it should have happened years ago (many, in fact) when they were both at the top of their game and could really indulge in some extreme face-kicking. But it's still kind of cool to witness. If you've seen their old movies, then you know they've both sort of slowed down. But let's say you're a kid, and you've never seen a single martial-arts film before. This one isn't a bad place to start, kind of like Baby's first kung fu. You can read the subtitles on Drunken Master II when you're older.

Fight Flub: Can someone explain why Chan has to wear robes all the time in this movie? Because if I can't see you fighting, then you might as well be a stunt man. Oh, wait …

Urinetown Touring Company Auditions Are Down the Hall, Sorry: It can't be tip-toed around easily, so I won't. Li pees in Chan's face. Not kidding either. And it kind of goes on for a while, too. Any parents who complain about it should have maybe thought of that before they allowed their kids to watch Shrek's fart humor over and over. This is the next step in hilarity.

Trying to Figure Out Where You've Seen the Kid Before? He played Sean Hayes' son on Will & Grace.


CRITICS' REVIEWS
SOURCE RATING THE GIST
POSITIVE REVIEWS FOR THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
New York TimesN/A"… a faithful and disarmingly earnest attempt to honor some venerable and popular Chinese cinematic traditions."
Seattle Post-IntelligencerB"… joyous and exhilarating."
TV Guide3 stars/4"… pitched somewhere between homage and spoof …"
NEGATIVE REVIEWS FOR THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
Entertainment WeeklyD"… stale story, the fortune-cookie dialogue, or the fizzled pairing of action legends Chan and Li …"
MIXED REVIEWS FOR THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
Chicago Tribune2 stars/4"… the exaggerated comedy and big tonal shifts of a martial-arts epic flounder on the modern-day streets of Boston."
Hollywood ReporterN/A"… a hodgepodge …"
Los Angeles TimesN/A"… bland enough to have been allowed to shoot on China's mainland …"
Onion A.V. ClubC"… an amiable time-waster for kids, but much more should be expected from the momentous union of two kung-fu titans."
VarietyN/A"… a handsome albeit unexceptional juvenile adventure …"
Village VoiceN/A"… an amiable lost-and-found of epic-adventure tropes."

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