High expectations get `Derailed'

THE GRIPE

The Buzz

November 11, 2005|By CHRIS KALTENBACH | CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

A feature in which Sun writers and critics sound off about the movies.

A recent visitor to the Internet Movie Database opened his remarks on the film Derailed with the comment, "This is the kind of movie that drove me out of theatres years ago."

He may have a point. Yes, worse films have been released this year, but none with such high expectations. Derailed is sloppy, cookie-cutter filmmaking that won't interest anyone outside of hard-core Jennifer Aniston and/or Clive Owen fans. Bad enough that it's predictable and cliche-ridden. It's also trite, a film that can trace its big "surprise ending" back to the old Monty Python line, "I'm not dead yet."

What makes A-list actors like Aniston and Owen, both at what may be the hottest points of their careers, sign on for such films? Are they being misadvised by their agents? Did the original script look exponentially better than what ended up onscreen? Did they owe director Mikael Hafstrom a favor?

Hollywood heads everywhere are being scratched, as the big studios grapple with declining box office receipts and try to pin the blame on something. Some scribes have suggested that people are avoiding theaters because the films aren't any good. Many observers, including those responsible for the films being booked into theaters, insist films are as good as ever. But if movies like Derailed are among the best cinema has to offer, maybe the dearth of high-quality films really is the culprit.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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