movie film review | chris tookey

Kevin Thomas


Los Angeles Times, USA


Quote Whore Quotient : 80

 Quote Whore Status : 9th
Life or Something Like It (2002)
An adroit crowd-pleaser, and [Angelina] Jolie and [Ed] Burns exude charisma and the right chemistry.
 What we have is a character faced with the possibility that her life is meaningless, vapid and devoid of substance, in a movie that is definitely meaningless, vapid and devoid of substance.
  (John Anderson, Newsday)
 The kind of romance that makes a life of solitude seem attractive. The kind of life-affirming story that makes the prospect of death a little less daunting.
  (Edward Johnson-Ott, Nuvo Newsweekly)
 Bad movies just don't come any sadder than Life or Something Like It, a shapeless, miserable mess.
  (Jim Lane, Sacramento News & Review)
 The script lurches from banal formula... to vacuous, cringe-worthy contrivance.
  (Liam Lacey, Toronto Globe and Mail)
 A humorless film about tiresome characters who kept getting more annoying the more serious they became.
  (Dennis Schwartz, Ozu’s World Movie Reviews)
 Rubbish, or something like it.
  (Catherine Shoard, Sunday Telegraph)
 A toe-curlingly whimsical, revoltingly schmaltzy, entirely unfunny romantic comedy about an ambitious Seattle TV presenter (Angelina Jolie in a terrible Marilyn Monroe wig). She believes she has only a week to live, and uses it to rediscover her values, sense of family, solidarity with striking trade unionists and the love of a good cameraman (Ed Burns, smugger and more irritating than ever). Having gone through a series of ridiculous plot contortions, the film ends up with our leading lady regaining the will to live. The same can not be said for the audience.
 (Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)
40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)
Consistently engaging, clever & insightful! A frothy comedy with Subtext! Josh Hartnett reveals his versatility!
 Unrelenting in the number of ways it can get its one joke wrong.
  (Glenn Whipp, Daily News Los Angeles)
 The underpinning misogyny of 40 Days and 40 Nights is only exceeded by its cynicism.
  (Jan Stuart, Newsday)
 A remarkably sniggering, tawdry sex gross and smutty that perhaps a trenchcoat should be required apparel for every audience member.
  (Frank Swietek, One Guy’s Opinion)
 Screenwriter Rob Perez knows as much about both self-discipline and Catholicism as I know about echocardiography.
  (Sean O'Connell, Eclipse Magazine)
 The picture is unfunny and possibly subsidised by President Bush's “Say no to sex” campaign.
 (Philip French, Observer)
 It's bad enough that we're asked to believe that forgoing sex for under six weeks is a modern Labour of Hercules, which it all too plainly isn't. But the execution of the idea is even worse - an oafish, even disgusting collage of jokes about used condoms, self-abuse and erections. The plot is so shoddily constructed that we don't even find out who won and lost the bet… One of the most obnoxious, least funny comedies of 2002.
 (Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)
Boat Trip (2002)
Hilarious! A no-holds-barred, all-out farce... In its frenetic, good-natured way, Boat Trip is a trip.
 I can think of one thing worse than Boat Trip, and that would be drowning. But just barely.
  (Jeffrey Westhoff, Northwest Herald)
 It's hard to imagine who would find this funny.
  (Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide's Movie Guide)
 Lacks laughs, wit or any sense of intelligence.
  (Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons)
 Human beings did this.
  (Scott Weinberg,
 You're unlikely to see anything more puerile or mirthless this year than the dreadful Boat Trip.
  (Philip French, Observer)
Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
On the whole, this lively, bittersweet Columbia release works well and is sure to connect strongly with fans of Sandler at his most free-wheeling and uninhibited.
 This is as dreadful a holiday offering as you're likely to find this year. A lump of coal would be more welcome.
  (James Berardinelli, Reelviews)
 An hour-plus of the comedian whimpering in squeaky voices is psychosis-inducing, and makes Eight Crazy Nights feel like the ninth circle of hell... An unholy union between saccharine holiday sentiment, gross-out comedy, and fourth-rate animation.
  (Tor Thorsen,
 Irritating, boring, gross, silly.
  (Sue Pierman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
 In a way it pushes back the barriers - deer guzzle sewage, a woman with three breasts swings them back and forth like an executive toy - but perhaps some barriers are better left standing.
  (Catherine Shoard, Sunday Telegraph)
 This unfunny rubbish wouldn't have been any funnier in live action, but here it lacks even the meagre shock vaue that might have come from having these misdeeds performed by real people. The change of medium thus makes the feebleness of Sandler's talent even more glaringly obvious than it already was.
  (Edward Porter, Sunday Times)
 A mixture of It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. However, in neither of those stories did you have to sit through men humping their own cars, shameless product placement and endless, unfunny gags showing flatulence and coprophilia. Adam Sandler's idea of Christmas cheer is to poke fun at the fat, the bald, the epileptic and the incontinent. Who is this junk aimed at? Not children, I hope; yet anyone with an IQ of even double figures will find their stomachs heaving at the feeble songs, crude animation and the grotesque juxtaposition of gross-out cruelty with emetic sentimentality. The resulting film has all the charm and seasonal goodwill of a Christmas tree festooned with faeces.
 (Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)
National Security (2003)
A film that's both laugh out loud funny and surprisingly subtle.
 Combines a sour story with a repellent lead character, deadly comic schtick and tin-eared direction to produce 90 minutes of sheer, plodding mirthlessness.
  (Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle)
 Something very rare happened to me as I watched the keening awfulness of National Security unspool before my eyes: my jaw slowly widened, until I realized that I was indeed illustrating what “jaw-droppingly bad” truly means.
  (Scott Weinberg,
 Like its star, the movie is loud, tactless and spectacularly unfunny.
  (Josh Larsen, Sun Publications)
 Is there anything worse than a Martin Lawrence movie?
  (Kevin N. Laforest, Montreal Film Journal)
 Aimed at people whose knuckles graze the ground when they walk. Avoid at all costs.
 (Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003)
This sleek and sunny comedy is an all-too-rare example of smart and inventive Hollywood filmmaking.
 There’s something about the smarmy David Spade that brings out the worst impulses in a person – that nasal whine, the snotty insincerity, and that stringy hair all make you want to slap him senseless and then some.
  (Steve Davis, Austin Chronicle)
 It’s buried by several false assumptions, the main one being that anyone in Britain cares for charmless, charisma-free American TV comic David Spade, a vacuum at the movie’s heart where a lead actor should be.
  (David Gritten, Daily Telegraph)
 Maudlin, mirthless drivel from the Dream Factory's nightmare annexe.
  (Nigel Andrews, Financial Times)
 Stale schmaltz.
  (Edward Porter, Sunday Times)
 The film is about as funny as being given a lift by a suicide bomber on his way to work.
 (Philip French, Observer)
 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is executive-produced by Adam Sandler and bears many of the hallmarks of that comic colossus: a love of sadistic humour, vast amounts of smutty misogyny interspersed with moments of gut-wrenching sentimentality, and a leading actor (in this case, David Spade) with no charm or plausibility whatsoever.
The Haunted Mansion (2003)
A thrilling adventure…lots of fun!
 The Haunted Mansion is one of the oldest and most popular attractions at Disneyland. It should have stayed there. As a comedy-horror film, it provides neither laughs nor scares.
 (Sarah Chauncey,
 Simply add this film to Murphy’s growing list of bad movie choices, where a more viable supporting cast upends his performance.
  (David Levine,
 Parts of The Haunted Mansion come across as a third-rate Ghostbusters rip-off. As a whole, the production offers an amateurish look and feel. The storyline is so choppy and poorly developed that one has to wonder if there was a finished screenplay when filming started.
  (James Berardinelli, Reelviews)
 Learn from the Evers family: The Haunted Mansion is not worth the detour.
  (Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle)
 The unpleasant racial overtones and zombie sequences make it uncomfortable for adults and upsetting for small children. Though the film is a spin-off from one of Disneyland's top attractions, this is no Pirates of the Caribbean. I don't remember laughing once, or smiling more than a couple of times; it's just an excuse for a load of expensive but uninspired special effects. Even Casper was better than this.
 (Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)
Journey to the Beginning of the World (1996)
Marcello Mastroianni, who died in Paris in December 1996 at age 72, could not have had a finer valedictory to a great career than Manoel de Oliveira's Voyage to the Beginning of the World... There's a deceptively casual, random air to Voyage, but it begins to build powerfully once the travelers arrive at their destination, a small mountain village of ancient stone buildings and narrow streets, a place where farmers and shepherds have been living much the same way for thousands of years... Perhaps inevitably, Voyage to the Beginning of the World recalls the 1957 Ingmar Bergman classic Wild Strawberries, in which an elderly professor, returning to his native region to receive an academic honor, is overcome with memories and faced with his shortcomings. Voyage is a less formal, less literary work yet has much the same impact. It also has a wonderful symbol of the human predicament: an old stone statue of a man stuck throughout eternity with a heavy wooden beam resting on his left shoulder--a statue by the roadside remembered well by Manoel from his youth and surely not to be forgotten by his friends.
Orgazmo (1997)
Solider (1997)
Spectacular. A potent action-adventure fantasy.
Teaching Mrs Tingle (1999)
Knockout directorial debut… shrewd and energetic dark comedy... Teaching Mrs. Tingle reveals Williamson not only to be as accomplished a director as he is a writer but also his willingness to move beyond horror to psychological suspense.
The Animal (2001)
An outrageous and imaginative summer comedy aimed primarily at young males, but it is often so funny that it may well connect to a broader audience.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Has a superb reenactment of Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of a sizable portion of the U.S. Pacific fleet in Honolulu, an engaging love story and a remarkable evocation of a time when Americans virtually overnight pulled together to begin the grueling process of turning a military catastrophe into eventual triumph. The film's immense cast and crew... blend artistry and technology to create a blockbuster entertainment that has passion, valor and tremendous action... Despite its scale, Pearl Harbor has a brisk pace that makes this three-hour war epic seem like half that time.
Black Knight (2001)
A rip-roaring time-travel comedy tailored beautifully to Martin Lawrence's protean talent.
The Musketeer (2001)
Philip Harrison's superb production design, Raymond Hughes and Cynthia Dumont's wide range of costumes, Gigi Lepage's gowns for Deneuve and David Arnold's rightly thundering score all help bring alive Dumas' romantic, tumultuous world one more time.
Who is Cletis Tout? (2001)
A gem! Clever, amusing and unpredictable!
Showtime (2002)
A fine-looking film with a bouncy score and a clutch of lively songs for deft punctuation... Fresh, Funny and satirical! DeNiro and Murphy play off each other hilariously.
The Jungle Book 2 (2003)
A work of such charm and imagination it should enchant, as the old circus phrase goes, “children of all ages.”
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
A work of demonic brilliance!
Scary Movie 3 (2003)
Consistently entertaining & frequently hilarious!
Cold Creek Manor (2003)
Director Mike Figgis has sophisticated fun with the old-dark-house thriller genre and brings it to a subtly satirical edge.
Catwoman (2004)
Catwoman is stylish and full of razzle-dazzle.
Yes (2005)
Bold, vibrant and impassioned, Yes is the work of a high-risk film artist in command of her medium and gifted in propelling her actors to soaring performances. (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times)
The Stepfather (2009)
The film is all of a piece, a handsome, thoughtfully crafted production that generates a mounting terror securely anchored by assured performances, consistent psychological persuasiveness and believable dialogue.
Kaspar Hauser (1993)
With his Kaspar Hauser, writer-director Peter Sehr affirms Herzog's point of view yet also persuasively solves the mystery of Hauser's identity in telling a tale of multiple royal homicides that foreshadows the coming of a brutal fascism. Realizing the innate power of this astonishing, captivating story, requiring much research, he creates a sturdy screen narrative in a classically simple style, bringing to bear upon it an acute perception and bitter sense of irony. It unfolds with splendid performances amid equally splendid authentic settings.
The Idiots (1998)
Suggests that if Danish iconoclast Lars von Trier's films are getting tougher, they're also continuing to reward the patient... Interestingly, rather than cut his film to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating, von Trier simply blacked out genitals in the film's more frolicsome moments, which actually works as an amusing critique of censorship.
The Love Letter (1999)
A romantic comedy of much charm and wisdom.
8 1/2 Women (1999)
Peter Greenaway’s is a nod to Fellini - and that ‘half’ turns out to be a typically dark Greenaway twist. No artistic temperaments could be more different than those of Greenaway and Fellini. Greenaway is the detached, pitiless intellectual whose magistral experimental flourishes can be recondite in the extreme, whereas Fellini is the lyrical, compassionate sensualist who celebrates the beauty of the women in his all-encompassing embrace... Yet this film, one of Greenaway’s most amusing and accessible, actually arrives at moments of tenderness, even love, fleeting though they may be. finds Greenaway in a contemplative mood, musing about the interplay of sex and love and mortality, and the bonds between father and son--within the context of mordant absurdist humor, to be sure. It’s not that Greenaway has gone soft and sentimental but rather that he’s dared to allow a rare drop of humanity to emerge in his characters’ relationships with one another.... [The film] has the superb production design and glorious cinematography (by the veteran Sacha Vierny) typical of Greenaway works, plus a raft of scintillating portrayals. Standing has lent staunch support in many a film, and it is a pleasure to find him in the central role as a man of formidable savoir-faire.
Holy Smoke (1999)
A triumph! Hilarious! Bristling with vitality!
Romeo Must Die (2000)
Romeo Must Die has a great look and an edgy feel, along with some broad swaths of humor.
Like Mike (2002)
A sure-fire heartwarmer: lively, funny, family-friendly, emotion charged and uplifting!
Festival in Cannes (2003)
Dizzying…Glamorous…Radiantly Beautiful! Henry Jaglom has created a classic farce, rich in humor and emotion.
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2003)
Imaginative! Beautiful! Entirely Beguiling!
Tuck Everlasting (2003)
A sweeping romantic fable made with such skill and sensitivity that its appeal spans generations.
American Adobo (2003)
Delicious! An intimate, good-humored comedy, outrageous humor…Lots of heart.
Two Weeks Notice (2003)
It has the wit and charm of a classic romantic comedy. The chemistry between Bullock and Grant proves to be sensational.
The Hot Chick (2003)
Beneath its crass veneer, this film, from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company, proves as provocatively subversive as his Eight Crazy Nights... The filmmakers have sly fun with all sorts of gender-bending possibilities, suggesting that maybe there's something to be said for people accepting themselves and one another as they are... Faris, who survived Scary Movie 2, emerges as a young actress of much promise, and the same could be said of Rachel McAdams in her first sizable role. As for Schneider, he may be obnoxious and unhandsome, but he is, more important, talented and fearless, the driving force of this brash, not-so-predictable comedy.
Brown Sugar (2003)
Brown Sugar is a sly and sophisticated romantic comedy with a depth of characterization matched by its appreciation of the world of hip-hop… As satisfying as it is sleek, and Famuyiwa inspires carefully nuanced portrayals from his cast.
Agent Cody Banks (2003)
Agent Cody Banks may be targeted at teens, but even their grandparents might consider it fun.
The Fighting Temptations (2003)
A rousing, warmhearted comedy, as infectious as the gospel music it celebrates.
Friday After Next (2003)
Empire (2003)
Engrossing and utterly uncompromising! John Leguizamo gives one of the best performances of the year. As the film shifts into high gear it reveals how much more thoughtful and perceptive it is from the usual genre movies.
What to Do in Case of Fire (2003)
Provocative, energetic entertainment. Thoughtful and lots of fun.
White Chicks (2004)
Even if it lingers a bit too long, White Chicks represents a solid accomplishment for the crowd-pleasing Wayans brothers. (Kevin Thomas, LA Times)
After the Sunset (2004)
An unalloyed delight, bright and breezy escapist fare that's pure entertainment, filled with romance, adventure, humor, action, suspense, beautiful scenery and beautiful people.
The Cave (2005)
It's fun and looks great.
 Back to top 
Key to Symbols