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Deep Impact

Starring Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman
Written by Michael Tolkin and Bruce Joel Rubin
Directed by Mimi Leder
Website: www.deepimpactmovie.com

IN SHORT: Makes very little impact.

Yeah, all right. Two years back, Cranky may have been dumb when the aliens nuked New York -- if you forget, he refused to evacuate his rent controlled apartment -- but this time out he was prepared for the three thousand foot high tidal wave that was about to wash the city out to sea. Cranky laid out the big bucks for an imported English beauty of an umbrella. He was ready for the water. He was ready for the destruction. He wasn't ready for the washout that is the movie called Deep Impact.

It's hard to write bad things about a script salted with dialog that occasionally sparkles, to wit: "Famous people always get more sex. That's why it pays to be famous" or "I know you're a reporter but you used to be a person". (I'm not being sarcastic). Would that there were more of it in Deep Impact, a movie which tries so hard to be like a Steven Spielberg classic (think of the emotional swells of E.T. crossed with any of the major special effects filled projects either produced or directed by the gent) that it doesn't know what it is. Spielberg is an executive producer on this project, but Cranky can't say if that had any effect on it.

The sitch is simple. Astronomy club member Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood), while flirting with the blonde at the next telescope, discovers a previously uncharted comet. When a professional astronomer (Charles Martin Smith) charts the course of this heavenly body, he is shocked to find that the sonofabitch is gonna collide with Earth. First, though, there's a neat little plot twist that destroys all the evidence and the next thing you know it's a year later and Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni) is working her way up the ladder at MSNBC. Inadvertently, she stumbles across the story of the century and Deep Impact takes a twist into the thriller genre as . . . no, that would be giving stuff away. Much too quickly, Deep Impact becomes a tale of who will live and who will die; of tearful partings and even more tearful refusals to PART; of deep space astronauts (led by Robert Duvall) bravely trying to blow the comet to smithereens.

Which brings us to the effects, both terrestrial and extra- terrestrial. They're very cool, and almost the sole reason to see Deep Impact on the big screen. The skyscrapers of New York go down like dominoes. The space effects are compelling enough that people in the preview audience Cranky sat with were jumping in their seats. But someone along the line forgot that effects are what the summer audience pays for, not a lot of emotional situations, and Deep Impact is seriously out of balance when it comes to that. Vanessa Redgrave gets saddled with a not-as-important-as-it-could-be supblot involving a divorce from Jenny's father. James Cromwell's appearance is a surprise in a part that really doesn't do more than kick the story ahead a bit and add a poor excuse for a macguffin to the tale.

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

$4.00

Frankly, I'd usually drop this down to the rental mark of $3, but when the tidal wave hits New York City . . . oooooo!


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