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The Guardian

Starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher
Screenplay by Ron L. Brinkerhoff
Directed by Andrew Davis

IN SHORT: endless. [Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Action/Peril, Brief Strong Language and Some Sexuality. 144 minutes]

Because we've been writing as Cranky for over a decade it is apparent that we have to repeat the following time and time again: WE REVIEW MOVIES. WE DON'T COMMENT ON ANY PARTICULAR JOB SKILL. That being said, we'll still get blistering dissmail from nudnicks that haven't paid any attention to this paragraph and went right to the slow priced rating at the bottom of the page.

Any person that would put his or her life on the line for the benefit of us reg'lar shlubs gets a tip of the cap from us. That being on the record, we're going to do the opposite of what we normally do, which would be recapping most of the film leaving the big third act surprise to be just that. We're not going to tell you the first act surprise (surprise!) because, as you slog through The Guardian, you'll have the whole mess figured out a good two hours before the end credits roll. You do the math. It's that dull.

But not the first ten or so minutes. Afterwards, as this tale of Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers in training and in action unspools, you get to experience the rocky relationships of old school trainer Ben Randall (Kevin Costner); first, with wife Helen (Sela Ward) and second with smart ass newbie, "best swimmer in high school" Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). Jake gets his own underdeveloped relationship (as the path to maturity) with local schoolteacher Emily (Melissa Sagemiller). Emily sees a new class of rescue swimmers come in to town every eighteen weeks and she's not about to be swept off her feet, again, by any of 'em. Yeah, guess what? Yep. Not only that, you will also easily figure out the eventual conclusion(s) to the movie, with about two hours to go. Our numbers are correct. We haven't seen more shuffling in seats and viewers ducking out for bathroom runs or to get refills on the oversized popcorn combos in a long time. Considering that the guts of this film involve high seas rescues with huge waves rising and falling and smashing and grinding, the overall emotional affect of the movie is equivalent to watching a calm as glass pond. Not a good thing.

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



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