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July 22, 1996

GBHP At The Movies
Copyright 1996 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved


Recently a wave of movies have hit the cinemas, basically because it's Summer. And since about 5% of you actually pay attention to me, I thought I'd advise that lucky 5% on what's worth watching. So I'll cover two movies, "Phenomenon" and "The Frighteners."

PHENOMENON

I believe that John Travolta will win an Academy Award for his performance in this film. I don't think he deserves it, but Cliff Robertson won the '68 Oscar for "Charly" and if "Phenomenon" isn't a rip-off of "Charly," I don't know what is.

It only steals the most basic plot elements from "Charly," which are "not so bright guy suddenly gets smarter than anyone in the world, gets a woman to fall in love with him, and then dies." The rest is pretty much left up to the screenwriter's imagination, which I guess was surgically removed, so he borrows a bunch of other movie cliches to flesh it out.

Travolta is likeable in this role and Forest Whittaker does a good turn as his dedicated friend. On the other hand, Robert Duvall, who is admittedly one of the great actors of his generation, was there to collect a check.

Overall, it's a good date film. You leave feeling sort of sad, sort of good, and ready to make out. But if you're not with someone you want to make out with, see something else.

THE FRIGHTENERS

I have said many times this summer, "that movie was 20 minutes too long." I could not say that about "The Frighteners." Maybe three minutes could have been cut from it, but almost every incident, every moment seemed to advance and add to the story instead of merely extend it.

If you want good characters, great special effects, a few surprises, a story that keeps you enthralled, and a final thirty minutes that is about as action packed as it gets without having to resort to car crashes and explosions, then "The Frighteners" is a must see. It balances comedy and suspense without letting either detract from the other. And despite Mojo Nixon's contention that Michael J. Fox is the anti-Elvis, he did a good job in this role. The only thing I didn't like was Dee Wallace Stone. I'm sorry, but I just wasn't ready to see E.T.'s mom like that.

Best movie of the year? Not likely. Best movie of the summer so far? Absolutely. It is rated R and will definitely be too intense for little kids, even if Michael J. Fox is in it, so do take caution.


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