News & Features » Miscellany

"The Haunting," "Inspector Gadget" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous"

Quick Flicks

"The Haunting""Inspector Gadget""Drop Dead Gorgeous"

"The Haunting" Stylish to a fault, this '90s update of Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House," is an exercise in tedium. Far better — and far scarier — is Robert Wise's 1963 take on Jackson's chilling scenario. While Wise's Julie Harris/Claire Bloom feature may not have the special effects wizardry of the remake, it does just fine in the terror department. Jan De Bont and company could have learned a lesson or two from "The Blair Witch" guys. "The Haunting" would have been far better had it made us care about the folks trapped in the house, rather than showcasing the eerie, come-to-life aspects of the house.

Which is not to say that the special effects are not special. They are. It's just that it takes forever to get to the good stuff. Most of the time you're sitting in the audience mentally begging for some"body" or some"thing" to scare you.

"Inspector Gadget" Memo To Disney: Yo, Eisner! Stop remaking old TV shows. As if it weren't bad enough that you went out and destroyed a much-giggled over TV show of my youth, "My Favorite Martian," with a lame, mean-spirited, remake. Now you've mucked up a favorite cartoon of mine.

Matthew Broderick tries his best as the security guard-turned-supercop Inspector Gadget, but the story is nothing more than an uninspired skeleton on which to hang a series of computer-generated special effects. And I'm still trying to figure out why on earth you guys cast "Ellen's" self-absorbed vamp Joely Fisher as Broderick's true love. What? You couldn't get Broderick's real-life wife, Sarah Jessica Parker?

I guess if you had to give a face to Gadget's evil nemesis Claw, you could have come up with a lot worse faces than that of Rupert Everett. And hey, why write Gadget's sweet niece Penny (Michelle Trachtenberg) nearly out of the script? The few times she's on-screen the movie almost works.

"Inspector Gadget" could have been cute, clever fun for the family. Instead, Disney's take is dull and lifeless.

"Drop Dead Gorgeous" Yikes! Kirstie Alley should have stayed in "Veronica's Closet" instead of signing on to this uninspired satire about teen beauty contests. Only Kirsten Dunst (playing the town's poor, but sweet beauty) and Ellen Barkin (playing Dunst's trailer-park mom) survive the movie with their acting credentials intact.

Not to lead you completely astray, there are quite a few drop-dead funny lines in this movie, just not nearly enough of them. It's as if the writers and director felt that the premise and the setting ("Fargo"-talking Minnesotans) were all the humor necessary. I'm thinking poking fun at Middle America Teen Beauty Pageants is about as tricky as shooting fish in a barrel.

Add a comment