Before And After A Solid Crime Drama

Courtesy: Hollywood Pictures/Caravan Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

Before and After is not as terrible a story as some critics would have audiences believe.  Anyone that watches television newsmagazines such as Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours, and the ilk will see that the story behind this movie is not as outrageous as it seems.  Nor are the reactions of the community surrounding Carolyn and Ben Ryan when it’s announced that their son Jacob (Edward Furlong) is a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Martha.  While this nation’s justice system says that a person is innocent until proven guilty, the townspeople in the Ryans’ community show the same reaction that people in the real world instantly show concerning any crime case that’s spread across the various news agencies.

While Liam Neeson has rarely had very good acting roles, this is one time when he is actually at least somewhat convincing.  And as always, veteran Meryl Streep impresses as the distraught mother trying to come to terms with and make sense of everything when her family’s world is turned upside down.  Alfred Molina shines, too, in the role of shyster lawyer Panos Demeris.  Audiences will love to hate him when he tells Carolyn that Jacob is his client.  And he will defend Jacob, even if it means throwing Carolyn under the bus.

The reaction of the townspeople around the Ryans’ is entirely believable.  One look at the news each night shows just how fast people are to judge, rather than sit and wait for the facts to come out about a case.  They instantly take it on themselves to be judge, jury and executioner, when they don’t have the full story.  And their reactions to Jacob’s family are just as believable.  Despite doing what he did, it makes Ben that much more of a sympathetic character to audiences.  He wasn’t thinking in doing what he did.  He wanted only to protect his son. 

That relationship between Ben and Jacob was the true heart of this movie.  While the main story was a crime drama, audiences learn that a fight between the two is what led up to the alleged murder.  Ultimately, the father-son relationship leads to an ending that is bittersweet at best.  But considering everything that Jacob and his family endured thanks to Martha’s death, it’s understandable that the story would end how it did.  That ending won’t be given away.  But it will leave any true movie lover moved as the last scene fades to credits.

Before and After is not a terrible movie by any means.  Is it the most memorable movie ever made in the crime drama genre?  No.  But it is still a movie that’s worth at least one watch.  Odds are that it was unappreciated by so many critics was that it was based so much in reality, rather than being just another over sensationalistic oversexed crime drama/thriller.  It’s a movie that any fan of more realistic crime dramas will enjoy.

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Moral Messages, Comedy Make Holy Man re-issue worth one watch

Caravan Pictures/Touchstone Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

Life is short, people.  Life is short.  We spend so much of our lives focused on materialism, our religious differences, and personal advancement.  We’re so focused on these distractions, that we lose sight of what’s really important.  What’s really important is the people and the world around us.  That’s the message behind the 1998 movie, “Holy Man.”  That message makes “Holy Man” stand out in the comedy genre.  Sadly, it also may be why it didn’t d too well at the box office.  Maybe people simply didn’t get this message, and simply saw it as just another forgettable buddy comedy, thanks to Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum.

It is true that one of the biggest plot holes to this story is that there’s no explanation behind where G came from or where his journey.  But maybe that’s beside the point.  Where one is going in life or where one came from isn’t nearly as important as the impact that one has one those around oneself at each stage of one’s life.  Given his standard character type, Jeff Goldblum was a good choice for the role of Ricky.  Sure, casting Goldblum was typecasting.  But somehow, his chemistry with Eddie Murphy worked.  It could be argued that this was actual a sort of take on A Christmas Carol, if one delved deep enough into the relationship between G and Ricky.  Instead of having three ghosts visit him, Ricky was visited by a single “spirit” who made him realize the path on which his life was moving.  As G and Ricky grow, audiences see Ricky change as a person.  They are reminded without being preached at too much about what’s really important in life. 

Ricky isn’t the only person changed by G.  A number of religious leaders try to claim connection to G at one point in the story.  The absurdity of them trying to claim a link to him is another message that writer Tom Schulman makes.  Each leader thought his religion was G’s.  But did it really matter?  No.  This over emphasis on religion happens every day in real life.  Who is to say which religion is THE right one?  Maybe G is all of them in one.  Again, therein lays the message of our being distracted too much by this difference.

Through G, audiences realize how distracted we are by our materialism, as well as our religious differences.  G never once told anyone to buy anything from the Good Buy Shopping Network.  It was the people themselves who made the choice to buy products.  People suddenly buying stuff from GBSN drives Ricky to care too much about his own personal advancement until he too realized what was really important.  He came to that realization after losing (albeit temporarily) someone close to him.  Once again, the message of removing distractions comes into play.

There is no denying that the story behind “Holy Man” is not the most believable ever written.  But neither can one deny the powerful messages tied in to the story.  They serve as reminders that every once in a while, we need to just take a step back, breathe, and appreciate each other and the world, instead of getting wrapped up in our fast paced, constantly on the go lifestyles.  It may not be the most memorable movie.  But thanks to the messages incorporated into it, “Holy Man” becomes a movie that is worth at least a single watch.

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Gone Fishin’ Proves Comedy Can Be Funny And Family Friendly

Courtesy: Caravan Pictures/Hollywood Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

In the world of comedies, there are buddy comedies and then there is “Gone Fishin’.”  This outrageously funny flick will bring the entire family to tears with laughter.  It’s one part “Dumb and Dumber” (only funny) and one part “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”  It proves that comedy can be funny without going blue.  That’s thanks both to the writing of uber writer/director/producer J.J. Abrams and Jill Mazursky, along with the acting of Joe Pesci and Danny Glover.
“Gone Fishin’” was originally released in 1997.  Much like so much other comedy of the 90’s, it was comedy that for the most part was family friendly.  So having it brought back to light on blu-ray is like unearthing a relic from a bygone era.  Both the writing team of Abrams and Mazursky, and the acting duo of Pesci and Glover are to be commended for their parts in bringing this near Three Stooges-esque story to life.  Joe Pesci was a laugh riot in his own right throughout this movie.  Considering his resume, he was a natural choice.  That resume includes a pair of teamings with Glover in Lethal Weapon 2 and 3 in 1989 and 1992 respectively. 

Given, the story behind “Gone Fishin’” makes suspension of disbelief next to impossible.  But the movie’s comic elements more than make up for that fact.  Every time that Joe and Gus turn around, something else goes wrong for them.  For instance, watching their boat get pulled away by a train after the same train nearly destroys it comes across as almost cartoonish.  It’s simply one of many funny moments for the whole family.  And Joe and Gus themselves are funny.  Their mannerisms, their facial gestures, all of it combined make for plenty of laughs for the entire family.  Again, one can’t help but make at least light comparisons to the style of comedy that made the Three Stooges popular.    

“Gone Fishin’” is a funny movie.  There are those who would compare it to the pair’s teaming in Lethal Weapon 2 and 3, and automatically slam it.  So be it.  But that comparison isn’t entirely fair as that is comparing apples to oranges.  If anything can be said of the movie that’s bad, it’s Joe Pesci trying way too hard to come across as a New Jersey native.  And while his comic delivery is over the top, to say the least, it’s so over the top that it’s funny.  Even though it may not be the most memorable of comedies, “Gone Fishin’” is still by and large a great, fun, turn off your brain comedy for the whole family any day of the week.

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