The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on March 23, 1990 · 46
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 46

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Friday, March 23, 1990
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THE BOSTON GLOBE FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 1990 I Caine in top form as likable psychotic 'Pretty Woman' - Msogynist's delight i By Jay Carr GLOBE STAFF 1 T By Jay Carr GLOBE STAFF T""" i Because he shows up in so many forgettable movies, Micrjael Caine is underappreciated. But "A Shock to Mnvie the System." Jan ye Egleson's sly, Review dark, witty satire of cutthroat corpo rate politics, will send Caine's stock Skyrocketing again. It's "How to Succeed in Business" with a vengeance - a wickedly entertaining flack diamond of a satire that refunds us how unobtrusively, ele-antly, economically and sympa thetically Came can inhabit a charac- r when he's in top form. Playing a ice ad agency drone passed over in vor of the new breed of corporate jhark, he experiences a power surge ifter accidentally shoving a panhandler in front of a subway train and Jetting away with it. It gets him Blinking. His taste for killing grows, and his career soars. Not since Philippe Noiret resolutely set about Jumping off the banes of his French olonial life in "Coup de Torchon" as such a likable psychotic shown p on screen. The thing that puts us so solidly m his camp is that he's deserving -e deserves the promotion he floesn't get, he deserves to be better jfeated by the condescending young Corporate conquistadores surrounding him, he deserves more under-itanding from his spoiled, self-fo-tiised wife. "It all began one night 4'hen the lights went out," Caine 2lls us in a voiceover marked by his rarm, precise, controlled Cockney &nes. And as he pes on to speak of limself in the third person ("In his awn house - constant failures of power . . ."), the film lays the basis far his dissociation from the rest of tjhe human race. But where his gangland barracuda in "Mona Lisa" played like "Alfie" embalmed, his yengeful Graham stays nice, smiling rarmly at his fellow workers, letting ijjnd glances linger, even as he begins to dread going the same route as' his forced-out-to-pasture commut-ig-train buddy, played with a won- 7 Jan Egleson's sly, dark, witty "A Shock to the System" will send Michael Caine's stock skyrocketing again. A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM Directed by: Jan Egkson Screenplay by: Andrew Klavan, based on Simon Brett's novel Starring: Michael Caine, Elizabeth McGovern, Peter Riegert, Swoosie Kurtz, Will Patton, Jenny Wright, John " McMartin Playing at: Copley Place and suburbs Rated: R (violent killings, profanity) derful sense of deflation by John McMartin. The joke is that as cut off as he is, this amiable sociopath is still much better company than the guys who are replacing him. In adapting Simon Brett's novel, Egleson and Andrew Klavan not only successfully Americanize it, but regenerate its wit in American terms, while sharpening its satire. "I'm Bob Benham's new secretary," says one pretty face at the office. "I just wanted to say how sorry he is about your wife," she croons, at once letting Graham know what a busy man his new boss is, and how low he really ranks. No wonder he's soon plotting to kill the usurper of the job he had assumed was his. eter Riegert makes the role of the hated, undeserving new boss tingle interestingly, too, especially in wordless, but hilarious, sequences involv ing who's going to light who's cigar. When a tone is sustained as confidently and with as many delicious flourishes as "A Shock to the System" manages, and the screen is filled with characterful performances, it's a sign the director is doing something right. That's what happens here. Caine and Riegert not only are well-matched; they're pun-gently supported. Will Patton, in danger of being typecast as a seething sicko after his work in "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "No Way Out," here surfaces as a homicide cop from Connecticut doing a Co-lumbo number. Elizabeth McGovern brings warmth to the humanizing role of the woman who befriends Caine, then becomes a liability when she discovers the clue that will hang him. McMartin makes defeat seem both comic and poignant, and Swoosie Kurtz is a plus as Caine's oblivious wife. When Caine, as the corporate Sweeney Todd, starts cutting a swath through its heartless ranks, he's striking back not only at his enemies, but at the business world's enshrinement of predatoriness. That's what makes his amorality so easy to root for. That's what makes "A Shock to the System" so satisfying. " 'Bad Influence' is DARK, SCARY AND VICIOUS ...ill Snort, I lOVed it." -Dana Hersey, HERSEY'S HOLLYWOOD, WSBK-TV "A rattlingly fine psychological thriller... If 'sex, lies, and videotape' hinted at Spader's fascination, 'Bad Influence' confirms it!' stieit BtnSOn. losgeies times "Lowe and Behold!... a breakthrough performance for Lowe... another first-rate performance for Spader'.' Gene Shalit. THE TODAY SHOW Ik "Like 'Fatal Attraction', 'Bad Influence' creeps up on you. You'll jump.'ll gasp... and you'll grab the armrest!' -Sim Kmetko. CBS-TV "A cracker-jack suspense movie. Filled with unexpected turns and shocks. ..the great Hitchcock comes to mind!' Bob Thomas. ASSOCIATED PRESS ". "Chock full of sizzle and surprises... You best see it!" -till Harris. SHOWTIME "Well contoured thriller:' PEOPLE MASAZINE '"Bad Influence' has it all. ..scary and suspenseful... a 'Hitchcock' movie for the '90's'.' Pat Comm. wwOR-tv "Well directed, well written and suspense filled:' ' , -loelSieial. GOOD M0RMIH6 AMERICA "A gripping, fascinating thriller that keeps the pace throbbing:' Rei Reed, NEW YORK OBSERVER ' . "As entertaining a nightmare as you're likely to find. Lowe is superb... Spader is perfect" Marshall Fine. 6ANNETT NEWS "James Spader is first-rate in this fast-paced thriller:' Judith Cfiit "One of the juicier, more stylish thrillers to hit the screen in a while... consistently makes you jump:' Bob Strauss. LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS ; f f ft 1 Lte Now Playing At These Selected Theaters! I If LOEWS 1 1 LOWS I fSMOWCASt CINEWASl I SHOWCASE CINEMAS II SHOWCASE Oxen I fSMOWCASf CINUAS PARIS NATICK TiTuSilt CIRCLE DEDHAM WC8URN REVERE 267-81 81 t53-5M5 ' 7 iB0 WMIII MWIM 11 566-4040 Jl 326-4955 l 933-5330 1 286-1660 .Watch the Academy Awards Monday. The disturbing thing about "Pretty "Woman" is that nobody at the Disney studio apparently saw it Mnvio 88 anything but a EI USht romantic Review comedy. Actually, it's a film whose real message is startlingly at odds with its nominal story, in which smooth, icy takeover tycoon Richard Gere comes to Los Angeles, takes over sweet, fresh-faced prostitute Julia Roberts, and does a Pygmalion number on her. Picking her up on Hollywood Boulevard, then realizing he needs an escort for business dinners, he throws some money at her for stylish clothes. She's also smart enough to seek tutelage on table manners from the kindly manager of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, in whose penthouse they're ensconced. In this . landscape of remade appearances signifying self-transformation, she literally becomes a six-day wonder, transformed from gum-phewing klutz to country-club goddess in less than a week. What's wrong with this picture is that it's an astonishingly self-oblivious piece of woman-bashing. Its real message is that money rules, that it can buy anything. It goes through the motions of endowing Roberts', character with dignity - in the end, she refuses to be a kept woman, holding out for marriage. But its real view is that without this rich guy, she's nothing. And not only does she need a rich guy, but one who'll tell her what to wear and how to behave. She can't even fight her own battles on Rodeo Drive. After a couple of snooty saleswomen show her the door, Gere makes it possible for her to go back and humble them (more woman-bashing!), reinforcing the film's credo that money and appearances are what count, that if the prostitute trades in her tie-dyed miniskirt for the right cocktail dress, her problems will be solved. Not that she has many problems. Possibly with an afterthought to its image, this Disney studio prostitute is the most squeaky-clean ever put k .im-..- . . -tWi l,. fc in i ft t'V o a Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman. It's almost as if Disney Is packaging a new theme park attraction - Hooker World. PRETTY WOMAN Directed by: Garry Marshall Screenplay by: J.F. Lawton Starring: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Ralph Bellamy, Laura San Giacomo, Jason Alexander, Hector Elizondo, Alex Hyde-White Playing at: the Chen Rated: R (profanity, discreet sex scenes, attempted rape)' on film. Only once toward the end, when Gere's sleazy lawyer, played by Jason Alexander, jumps her, is there even a hint that the world of the prostitute is filled with anything unpleasant, much less ugly. Prostitution isn't so much glamorized as sanitized - no drugs, no disease, no nasty pimps. It's almost as if Disney is packaging a new theme park attraction. - Hooker World. Sure enough, there's a flash of cheap insight as Gere's character mutters, "You and I are such similar creatures - we both screw people for money." After this, and a couple of passages allowing him to be sensitive to music and explain why he hated his father, we're supposed to believe that her warmth gets him to change the habits of a lifetime and become a better human being. At bottom, though, this remains a film in which she shops - and he approves or rejects. His money means shell take-his orders - and his contempt. --' In short, he remakes' and re shapes her while she slightly tempers his rapaciousness. Continuing his improvement program, he immerses her in opera and chess, presumably to decrease the chances that she'll prove a social embarrassment to him. In a way, it all seems even more meretricious because the actors are charming - -Gere in his muted, ironic way; Roberts in her heartfelt vitality; Hector Elizondo as the avuncular hotel manager; Laura San Giacomo recycling her "sex, lies and videotape" appeal at a much lower level here as the prostitute's roommate. Somehow, you feel "Pretr ty Woman" is being honest only when the prostitute slips into sub missiveness, that only here do its real intentions emerge. Alfred Hitchcock was called kinky for the way he molded Kim Novak into the cool blond of his dreams in "Vertigo." What are we to make of the spectacle of a studio molding another beauty even more imperiously into a figure of gorgeous powerlessness? At best, "Pretty Woman" is condescending. It's a misogynist's delight'. if r If 'IS! i .atSTa . AW W if 'i ' .'lLW5,K3 f wiiii e s , .t&i ' I- 1 r 1 E tEMr 1 fcifttf SEAN co;;:;ery LialWuJlJ FOg ALEC BAIDVCI PARAMOUNT PlCTURESr .MACEMUFELDJERRY SHERLOCK mn JOHN McTIERNANnm SEANCONNERY AlfCBALDVTN THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOER SCOTT GLENN JAMES EARL JONES SANtNm'?IUSILrUEDOURlS mi iDBvnFttiiV... iFBBYSHFPinfK ,"u,;l ARRY FFRfil SON . DONA STEWART -Kit TOM CLANCY ffnm rumMnii( irwMi we wiww w ..... . -. - - m v X al S-KVAVNOS- READ THE BERUnPSr5EliHI ----" ' . - PG PARENTM. 6UBAplCtSU6GtSTIDg IMX H PS 4000 LOEWS CHERI mv m mtsmm 536-2870 SOMERVIUE e utlMIU JO bTTI li 618-7000 LOEWS DANVERS ITI Wt.fXlT 14 77M55S'5-'p SMOWCASi C'NtMAS WOBURN m hi hit a i'i m 933-5330 GENERAL CtNEUA CHESTNUT HILL III 9 HAM MONO SI 277-2500 GENERAL CINEMA FRAMINGHAM SHOWCASE CINEMAS DEDHAM tTC I A HI 111' ISA 326-4955 SHOWCASE CINEUASl REVERE m ci t souiM . 2860660 Late show tonight at Cheri, Somerville, Dedham, Wobum, & Revere. Watch the Academy Award MarchZ6 4- 4 4

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