What You Need To Know:
(R, NA, AB, LL, V, SS, Ho, M) Romanticism & feel-good moral relativism mixed with light sacrilege -- Christmas is "magic" & depiction of mock manger scene; 1 obscenity, 18 exclamatory profanities, numerous sexual vulgarities, & sexual innuendoes; man killed by accidental shooting (not gory); fornication strongly implied & condoned, & illegitimacy condoned; transvestism & cross-dressing depicted & condoned; and, murder & attempted cover-up excused & rewarded when discovered that victim was closet serial killer.
The off-beat and bizarre dark-comedy MIXED NUTS stars Steve Martin and a host of mixed-up characters with mixed-up lives surrounding a suicide hotline service in Venice Beach called “Lifesavers,” where the inept but deeply caring staff needs more help than the desperate callers. Martin plays Philip, the awkward head of Lifesavers who believes his business is helping people, when it is he and his business that really need the help.
MIXED NUTS is a mixed bag of ill-fitting and odd elements. Good acting performances and flashes of humor, at times intense but short-lived and infrequent, are outweighed by the unsettlingly dark comedy, the depressing lives of the characters and the movie’s empty message of “magic” at Christmas time. Christmas is a time of joy, sharing with family and celebration of the birth of the Christ-child. This movie’s answer to the world’s unhappiness, and the disillusioned lives of the characters, is money (in the form of a reward for accidentally killing a local serial killer) and “magic.” Granted, the “magic” in MIXED NUTS is meant to symbolize “love,” but when the entire story up to this point has condoned illegitimacy, sexual immorality, obscenity, profanity, sexual vulgarity, borderline blasphemy, dishonesty, murder, and morally relativistic theology … what’s love got to do with it?
Quality: * * * Acceptability: -3
RELEASE: January, 1994
TIME: 100 minutes
STARRING: Ellen Barkin, Laurence Fishburne, Frank Langella, Michael Beach, David Ogden Stiers, Gia Carides, Spaulding Grey, Daniel Hugh Kelly, & Michael Murphy
DIRECTOR: Damian Harris
PRODUCERS: Amedeo Ursini & Jeffrey Chernov
WRITER: Ross Thomas
DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Pictures/Walt Disney Company
GENRE: Suspense Drama
CONTENT: (NA, LL, VVV, SSS, NNN, A, AB, E, Ho, M) Pagan, abundantly immoral worldview; 14 obscenities, 5 profanities & frequent sexual innuendoes; graphic, bloody violence — murder, shooting, beating, & suicide; sexual immorality — adultery & incest presented favorably, graphic fornication, graphic incest, oral sex, & voyeurism; brief, partial male & female nudity & full female nudity; alcohol use throughout; negatively depicted Christian symbolism; light, politically correct environmentalism; homosexuality portrayed positively; and, graft, corruption & bribery depicted & justified.
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Adults
SUMMARY: Laurence Fishburne is an outlaw CIA agent trying to infiltrate an industrial espionage operation when Ellen Barkin enters the picture to seduce him into joining the life of crime in BAD COMPANY, a story of ruthless greed, unbridled passion and violent double-cross. Impressive performances and directing give way to abundant offensive content, and the result does nothing to reveal anything new, different or uplifting.
Laurence Fishburne is an outlaw CIA agent, Nelson Crow, trying to infiltrate an industrial espionage operation when Ellen Barkin enters the picture to seduce him into joining the life of crime in BAD COMPANY, a story of ruthless greed, unbridled passion and violent double-cross. The CIA blackmails Fishburne into infiltrating “The Tool Shed” so they can take it over for their own use. Award winning writer Ross Thomas creates a world of corruption and evil for protagonist Crow. In his world, words like right and wrong, duty and morality take a back seat to the elements of graft, corruption, immorality, bribery, murder, and suicide which carry the movie to its predictable conclusion — everybody dies.
Ultimately true to its name, BAD COMPANY features no good guys, and the message here is that people and governments are innately corrupt. The only sense of mystery and intrigue comes from the fact that the viewer never knows what evil deed will occur next: deceit, bribery, suicide, blackmail, incest, fornication, murder, and a bloody conclusion in which the Fishburne and Barkin characters shoot each other, both falling with their arms outstretched in a crucifixion-like pose. Impressive performances and directing give way to abundant offensive content, and the result does nothing to reveal anything new, different or uplifting.
-94-LEGENDS OF THE FALL
Quality: * * Acceptability: -3
RELEASE: December, 1994
TIME: 133 minutes
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, Henry Thomas, Karina Lombard, Tantoo Cardinal, & Gordon Totoosis
DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Patrick Crowley
PRODUCERS: Edward Zwick, Bill Wittliff & Marshall Herskovitz
WRITERS: Susan Shilliday & Bill Wittliff
DISTRIBUTOR: TriStar Pictures
CONTENT: (NA, LL, VV, SS, N) Amoral, pagan worldview; 10 obscenities & 5 profanities; battlefield violence, including brutal machine-gunning of soldier caught in barbed wire, scalping, throat-cutting, removing of dead man’s heart, multiple shootings, & bloody fight between man & bear; brief but relatively explicit depiction of intercourse & sexual immorality implied; brief upper female nudity; and, implicit endorsement of Native American mysticism, including apparent psychic abilities.
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Adults
SUMMARY: Despite its portentous title (which apparently refers to a season of the year rather than the fall of mankind), LEGENDS OF THE FALL proves to be little more than a gussied-up TV miniseries, full of overwrought characters and operatic situations which deserve to be interrupted by toothpaste commercials. The main strength of this saga is its backdrop — the rugged mountains and big skies of British Columbia, effectively doubling for Montana at the beginning of the century. Most of the rest is convoluted fluff concerning an aging rancher (Anthony Hopkins, who does not carry the film) and his three sons over an interminable twelve year span.
LEGENDS OF THE FALL is little more than a gussied-up TV miniseries, full of overwrought characters and operatic situations. The main strength of this saga is the rugged mountains of British Columbia, doubling for Montana at the beginning of the century. Old man Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) has retired from the U.S. Cavalry. His three sons are characters right out of the bodice-ripping novels at the supermarket: sturdy Alfred (Aidan Quinn), college boy Samuel (Henry Thomas) and the wild, passionate Tristan (Brad Pitt). When Samuel returns from college with his fiancee Susannah, there’s some sibling rivalry for her affections. All three enlist during World War I. When Samuel is brutally killed by the Germans, Tristan retaliates with throat slitting and scalping, and then cuts out his brother’s heart to take it home. It’s all down hill from here.
While LEGENDS OF THE FALL only covers a twelve year span, the turgid story seems to plow through decades. Voice-overs have been added to clarify the flow of events. Most prominent is the aged Indian One Stab, who embodies: mysticism, psychic powers, physical strength, and wisdom. Apparently, “The family that slays together stays together” is the screenwriter’s message. As it is, the ongoing violence, intermittent sex and occasional rough language add further dead weight.