There are times when I think I'm too masochistic. I mean, sure I like bad movies, but there are a lot of bad movies that have a lot of charm. It's kinda like a mangy dog you pick up at the pound and you just fall in love with it because it's so helpless and sad. However, there are times when I think I'm one sick puppy.
I should really learn that a movie that stars both Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon is going to hurt. Even a pre-CSI William Petersen and an always sexy Alyssa Milano can't help this movie.
Nicole Walker (Witherspoon) is your normal 16 year old girl. Sure she's in her rebellious stage but she still doesn't like skipping class or being out past curfew. So when she meets an almost perfect yet mysterious older guy named David McCall (Wahlberg) she stops being daddy's little girl anymore. Yet when she see the real David for the psychopath he really is and his good boyish charm melts away, she realizes that she picked the wrong guy in a seedy hangout bar. Who woulda thunk? Her father (Petersen) tries to protect his daughter the best he can, but soon David and his friends attack the family in their nice, safe home.
So dealing with Marky Mark first I have to be shown right, once again, that his attempt at acting is just the same way he plays every other character he's ever done, but with a bit more yelling. Half of his lines are whispering and on the verge of tears. When he tries to turn the character to the psycho he really is he doesn't do a very good job. All he has to do is frown and look at the camera with upturned eyes. Even when he completely flips and tries to take Nicole away to live happily ever after, you don't really see the person who actually believes that, you just see some guy who's kinda mean.
Reese Witherspoon has been trying to play the all American girl for so long now. She's tried it in this movie, "Cruel Intentions", and "Election". She's never been really able to pull it off. Her slutty character in "Pleasantville" seems like more the character she wants to be. I do have to say, getting felt up on a carnival roller coaster is pretty unusual. The thing I can say about her character is that I believe she's doing a good job at playing a 16 year old who's dating an older boy who turns out to be a psycho. She mopes and cries a lot, she never learns the first time that the guy is bad news, and once she finds how crazy he is she doesn't get the police involved in anyway.
I do have to say that the little kid in this film is awesome. Christopher Gray plays the brother, Toby Walker. The thing I like about this kid is that he's the smartest one in the family. The bad guys decapitate his dog and he takes his revenge out on one of the guys by running him over with a car. Does he check the guy to see if he's still alive only to be taken as a hostage when the bad guy gets up? No! He dials 911! He also saves his mom by himself, not to mention bringing the police to come and save the family.
There are three big problems that doesn't include the storyline or the acting. However, I must give a SPOILER ALERT, since some of them might give away the ending if you still plan on watching it.
1) When David goes out the window and onto the rocks below you can clearly tell that the falling object in a dummy; and no, I'm not saying that Mark Wahlberg did that stunt. This is a 1996 movie, films before have done much better jobs at showing people going over cliffs . It almost seems like the filmmaker did one take and didn't even bother to make it more realistic.
2) When David shoots his buddy for touching "his woman" it's one of the worst gunshots to the head scenes I've ever seen. You have a close up shot of the two men, David pulls the trigger, and the gun flashes. The other guy just says "Uhh" and drops to the floor. There is no bullet hole, there is no blood splatter, there are no pieces of bone and brains anywhere that would happen as a result of a gunshot to the back of the head at point blank range. It's not like there hadn't been a blood splatter scene in movie history before ("Pulp Fiction" was two years prior to this film). This shows sloppy work on the part of the director.
3) This is my favorite. In order to slow down David, Nicole takes the peace pipe he won her at a carnival and stabs his very hard with it in his back. I don't know about you, but I doubt anything won at a fair would make it more than a month without disintegrating, let alone being able to use it to forcefully stab an attacker. I think some carny is going to be getting sued if that were to actually happen.
Grade - D
The father is a moron in this movie, so is the mother, so is the daughter, so is everyone except the little boy. He's the only person that accomplishes anything to help save his family and he gets to take out some revenge on someone who killed his dog. Marky Mark falters severely at trying to convince me he's not just another whinny, whisper talking character he almost always plays (sometimes he both whines and whispers at the same time in this film). Witherspoon plays an okay 16 year old but she doesn't seem to do much in the movie. It's really hard to feel anything from this movie. I never really felt like rooting for either the father or the daughter and Wahlberg didn't scare me at all. If they were to just call the cops and get a restraining order on him, he would have went away quietly.