Review: 'Gun Shy' a hit-or-miss effort
February 4, 2000
Web posted at: 3:10 p.m. EST (2010 GMT)
By Reviewer Paul Clinton
(CNN) -- "Gun Shy," starring Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt and co-producer Sandra Bullock, delivers both good news and bad news. The bad news is the title, which sounds like some half-baked, cheesy Chevy Chase flick. The good news is the title fits like a custom-made suit. Or is that more bad news?
If so, things only get worse. Neeson plays Charlie, a legendary undercover DEA agent embroiled in a complex case involving psychotic mobster Fulvio Nesstra (Platt), a couple of Colombia drug cartel guys and a dirty Wall Street type (Andrew Lauer).
Theatrical trailer for 'Gun Shy'
The plot involves a scheme to launder drug money, but poor Charlie's in a crisis. He's having panic attacks, passing gas uncontrollably (a running joke throughout the film) and suffering from incontinence (a traditional gold mine of comedic cinematic moments) -- all due to extreme job-related stress.
Charlie heads to his doctor, where he meets a nurse named Judy Tipp (Bullock), a standard-issue, wisecracking "girl-next-door" type. Tipp cheerfully proceeds to give Charlie a barium enema. Afterward, she cheerfully offers him a ride home -- undoubtedly part of his HMO plan. Romantic sparks fly. Apparently sharing the experience of an enema is a bonding -- not to mention cheerful -- affair.
On their first date, the two find themselves on the roof of her apartment building working on her little urban garden. This entails spreading out manure, and before you can say "please don't squeeze the Charmin," they're rolling around in the stuff and making out under a sprinkler system while becoming caked in what appears to be one of their favorite substances. Anyone see a pattern here?
While Charlie may be experiencing the first whiffs of a new love affair, his underlying problems remain. Through a series of flashbacks, the film reveals that Charlie was nearly killed on his last assignment and has now lost his nerve. The trauma sends him stumbling into therapy.
Before you say, "This sounds like a page taken from 'Analyze This' or HBO's 'The Sopranos,'" it must be pointed out that there are major differences here. Charlie's a "good guy" in a life-threatening job, not a mob boss, and he goes into group therapy, not individual therapy. See: Totally different. Yeah, right.
What follows next is one incoherent situation after another, involving a cast of interchangable characters whose motives are at best unclear. Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys? Who cares? Not only is the script incomprehensible, the film wasn't edited or directed -- it was crammed into a Cuisinart.
This sorry mess marks the film debut of writer/director Eric Blakeney, whose previous credits include TV's "Booker." Blakeney is a graduate of Julliard and has played bass guitar in a number of bands. When it comes to film, he may have a great musical future.
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You can practically see the panic in Neeson and Platt's eyes as they try desperately to infuse their limp dialogue with any type of meaning or comedic punch. Bullock is one of the best-liked actresses in the business. But she continues to huff and puff on her one-note acting range, the sweet and loveable -- but sexy -- "everygirl."
If she does have a wider range as an actress, she's been hiding it under a very large barrel. Fortunately, her role in "Gun Shy" is small.
"Gun Shy" opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. The film is rated R with a running time of 102 minutes.
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