Imagine That/The Taking of Pelham 123

Imagine That

.5 Star

What happened to you Eddie? You used to be hilarious. There’s proof all over the internet of this. But even Beverly Hills Cop III was better than this. I’d like to call it a family friendly comedy, but I wouldn’t subject my family to this. I just wouldn’t. There’s not even a fun message in the film. It’s just bad.

Eddie Murphy stars as Evan Danielson, a high powered stock broker in Denver, who is constantly butting heads with his equally high powered colleague, Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church). In fact he’s so focused on his job, that he’s neglecting his daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi). But once her imaginary friends start predicting booms and falls in the stock market, he learns to connect with his daughter, and let his inner child out.

Yes, that is the plot synopsis I am going with. Eddie Murphy needs to step away from movies for a bit. Stick with Shrek, you’re doing good with the voice over work. But go the Bill Murray route, take a few years off, return with some edgy, indie comedies. Or do what Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd are doing, stepping out of the starring roles, and showing up in delightful cameos. But stop with the family friendly crap. It’s not working.

Murphy aside… the film was still pretty terrible. We’re never really keyed into why the imaginary princesses in Olivia’s fantasy world know so much about the NYSE. And how they’re able to predict mergers, acquisitions and what not. Maybe we’re not supposed to know, but if we’re not, that’s a really terrible plot device. The message they’re trying to convey is to spend time with your kids. That much is clear. You could gather that from the trailer. But they waste and hour and a half trying spell it out for you in the must ridiculous and not-hilarious way possible.

This film does however get a point for the antics of Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, “Wings”). He steals every scene he’s in, and actually makes something comical out of the drivel he’s been given.

But I leave you with this, a reminder of when Eddie Murphy was funny:

The Taking of Pelham 123

2.5 stars

While there’s nothing particularly terrible about this new action/thriller from Tony Scott, Denzel Washington and John Travolta, there really isn’t anything particularly great about it either. It just kind of coasts by on the charisma of the two leads, and let’s them have an interesting conversation for a little over an hour.

New York City Transit dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) is settling in for a normal day. Until the Pelham 123 line is stopped and seperated, followed by an announcement from the hijacker known only as Ryder (John Travolta) that NYC has just one hour to get him $10 million or he starts killing hostages. It’s a race against the clock for Garber to save the lives of everyone on that train.

John Travolta has done some of his best work as a villain (Broken Arrow, Face/Off, Pulp Fiction). And this is no different. There’s something about seeing this usual nice guy be bad. And he notches up a great performance opposite the always likeable Washington (Man on Fire, Inside Man).

Unfortunately, that’s when this movie actually gets good, when these two are talking over the radio communications. It starts off kind of slow and disjointed, but once we get into the rythym of the Travolta/Washington conversations is where the movie starts to heat up. You get this wonderful exchange that pulls you in. They start exposing each others weaknesses, playing on certain personal faults. It culminates in a thrilling showdown in the third act.

But, the movie can’t coast on their charm alone, and no matter how good their exchange is, the mediocrity of the rest of the movie does not go unnoticed.

Go see it for Washington/Travolta, but if that doesn’t motivate you to get to the theatre, then definitely check it out in a few months on the rental shelves.


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