DAY FOUR CONTINUES:
As it turns out, there are more Cusack films out there. As it also turns out, I watched them. Here are my brief thoughts, as my ill-advised quest to watch them all continued.
RUNAWAY JURY, 2003:
Do real juries work like this? The answer is no. This movie is preposterously stupid. It is also one of the most watchable “late Cusack” films whose name isn’t a number (e.g. 1408, 2012). Three different groups of people want to rig the same jury! One of them is Gene Hackman, whose employers somehow have enough money to put every single member of the jury pool under surveillance.
This would make perfect sense if it were a Tony Scott film.
If you are looking for a compelling human drama, 12 Angry Men kind of thing, I’m sorry, you’ve come to the wrong shop. If you want crazy John Grisham, this-could-never-happen-in-the-real-world bullshit, then congratulations. On the upside, it’s nice to see Cusack playing a manipulative character.
MUST LOVE DOGS, 2005:
John Cusack has finally graduated to the post-divorce rom-com, which is, of course, no different from the early 30s rom-com. It just has slightly more wrinkles, and in this case, a lot of computer dating. Unfortunately, dogs are not as important to the plot as the title would suggest.
This scene would be better with dogs.
There we go. Moving on…
THE ICE HARVEST, 2005:
Ever wanted to watch a cheap Fargo knockoff? No? Well, sorry. It has botched crime in the midwest; just take the acting and directing down a couple of pegs, and replace snow with freezing rain, and whammo-zammo, we have The Ice Harvest.
It succeeds in being watchable (if not thoroughly enjoyable) and was probably more fun to make than it was to watch. Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Platt, and Randy Quaid all seem to be having a ball, but only Platt is truly fun to watch. After a year of watching Rob stalk Laura using a payphone, it is odd seeing Cusack using a cell.
THE CONTRACT, 2006:
I like John Cusack and Morgan Freeman enough to feel bad about what I am about to do. I am about to remind the world (or the small portion of it that reads this) that The Contract exists.
Obligatory rain shot.
You know it’s not a good sign when your film forgoes a U.S. theatrical release, premieres in Germany and goes straight to DVD in most markets. In this case, it was a mercy to all involved that the project was swept under the rug. Scenes are simultaneously overwritten and confusing. Events occur for no logical reason. The characters are flat and impossible to invest in. As my brother said, “It’s like they aren’t even trying to make you care,” John Cusack is an ex-cop/current-father taking his kid for a hike. Morgan Freeman is a contract killer, who has his sights set on… someone? It really isn’t clear. Nor is it clear why, when Freeman ends up in the middle of the wilderness, Cusack decides to take custody of him. Nor why Freeman’s suit remains so clean throughout their journey. Nor why any of the actors involved became or stayed involved in the project.
Freeman just got out of a car crash… in a river. How is he so dry?
At 97 minutes, the film seems mercilessly long. It was so boring, I don’t even have the desire to extensively mock it.
Also appearing in the film is Alice Krieg in what must have been a career low-point for the actress best known as the Borg Queen in Star Trek: Voyager.
If ever I didn’t want to watch any more John Cusack movies, it was after finishing these. But there were more. So I watched more. More, coming soon. More.