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Gun Shy

Rated [R] 102 minutes
Starring Liam Neeson, Sandra Bullock, Oliver Platt
Written and Directed by Eric Blakeny

IN SHORT: Quick recipe: Take a Not Awful film. Add Sandra Bullock. Yum.

In short, ladies, we sit through Ralph Fiennes weepers to make you happy. We, in turn, ask for little, save the ability to watch Sandra Bullock <sigh> on the big screen, while we shove fistfuls of hot buttered popcorn into our gaping maws. Yes, there be chick flicks and there be man movies and while Gun Shy isn't as crude as to alienate any of the femme folk out there (a la Comedy Central's The Man Show) this flick is definitely for us guys. Especially those of us with long term investments in high pressure jobs, and all the medical maladies that accompany stress and aging.

You could call it fart jokes for old people, but writer/director Eric Blakeny's script is a lot more clever than that.

18 years undercover a DEA investigator "Charlie" (Liam Neeson) is just about wrung out. His last gig left him with a face full of mushy watermelon, the knowledge that he had been betrayed, and an Uzi machine gun up his . . . well, let's just say enemas will play a big part in the rest of the story. Use your imagination. All Charlie wants to is put the knee to the turf and retire to a luxurious villa with an ocean view and servants at his beck and call. His superiors (Louis Giambalvo and X-Files' Mitch Pileggi) wants one more job, which will bring down a cartel of Colombian drug bosses (repped here by Jose Zuniga as Fidel Vaillar), one crooked Wall Street tycoon (Andy Lauer) and one of the remaining Mob families.

Which is where we get to a brilliant (and brilliantly funny) performance by Oliver Platt as Fulvio Nesstra, son in law to boss Don Carmine (Frank Vincent) and thoroughly whipped husband of Gloria (Mary McCormack). Fulvio is, to be kind, a dumb mobster. All he knows he learned from the movies and he didn't learn it well. He does, however, have a very short temper and an equally itchy trigger finger. In short, two forty-ish guys on the verge of their mid-life crisis -- the Colombians have their own problems, whose gags I won't spoil. Charlie sneaks off to a shrink (Michael Mantell) who prescribes pills, group therapy and a visit to Nurse Judy Tipp (Sandra Bullock).

Considering that their first meeting includes the administration of a barium enema (not a pleasant experience, I can tell you that, and Neeson does the comic aspects well), it's a wonderful relationship that develops between the pair. While Charlie tries to keep his personal and undercover lives separate, they will eventually come together (...duh), and that accidental meeting spins off into two or three equally funny scenes exploring the repercussions.

Blakeny's script is filled with jokes that are dead on personal to any guy of the traditional baby boom generation. A couple of audience members older than that (age 55-60 or so) walked out. Cranky, who is at the tail end (I'm 42) was surprised that biological jokes could be so intellectually well crafted. Gun Shy ain't no American Pie, but it does require a couple of years under your belt to get all the gags. While those gags, and the gunfire, work well together, Gun Shy never ignites into a screaming rave-up of either mob flicks, cop flicks or comedies. You could drive a tractor trailer through a plot hole at the very end of the movie, but by then you've already made up your mind to enjoy or not enjoy. Kinda like the end of Arlington Road.

At a reasonable hour forty or so, I didn't mind the time, but Gun Shy is something that is best for the guys and perfect for popping a beer and putting your feet up in front of the teevee.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Gun Shy, he would have paid...


...splitting the diff between pay per view and dateflick level. None of my femme friends would go near it -- but that's 'cuz they know I'm a sucker for Sandra who, even with a smaller role in this flick (she produced it) delivers more thumpa-thump per second of screen time than almost anything that's come before. Not that she tries to do that (to paraphrase Yoda), she just does.

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