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CrankyCritic® movie reviews:
The Minus Man

Starring Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Brian Cox, Mercedes Ruehl, Dwight Yoakam, Dennis Haysbert and Sheryl Crow
Based on the novel by Lew McCreary
Written and Directed by Hampton Fancher
website: http://www.theminusman.com

IN SHORT: All about Life, in a serial killer's own words. . . [Rated [R] ]

On paper, it's a great concept and one which I can't recall seeing before. Here we have Vann Siegert (Owen Wilson), a freshly scrubbed All-American boy with truck, drifting from town to town, meeting new people, making new friends, spiking their drinks with deadly poison and moving on . . .

Writer/Director Hampton Fancher's script (he's best known for writing Blade Runner a zillion years ago) offers us Vann's running commentary on life the universe and everything else as we watch him settle in to a new town, new lodgings and potential new girlfriend, Ferrin (Janeane Garofalo) a co-worker at the US Mail office where he's found work as a sorter. His landlords are Jane (Mercedes Ruehl) and Doug (Brian Cox), whose college age daughter has gone missing and who are themselves bordering on the edge of emotional self-destruction. Rounding off the cast are a pair of imaginary (?) cops (Dwight Yoakam and Dennis Haysbert) who are on the track of this killer. There's enough background in this story to allow you to think the conversations with the cops are Vann's own creation and rehearsal for an eventual arrest, but this is a flick which leaves you with more questions than answers, and doesn't allow any tension to build because there's no sense that the "pursuit" is anything more than imaginary.

I must have been having a bad day, 'cuz my head kept trying to nod off, and neither the script nor performances merited that kind of reaction. The question is: How do you build sympathy for a serial killer? You can't. How do you build tension when there's no visible pursuit? You can't. Minus Man breaks all the traditional rules and knows it -- the ad tag "conversation usually follows" is a perfect description of the kind of post arthouse screening activity that will invariably happen, 'cuz this flick is perfect for the arthouse.

The performances are uniformly good, with a most pleasant surprise being that singer Sheryl Crow holds her own against the seasoned Wilson. Still, the pace is rather slow and the lack of visible tension works against it.

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


Pay per view level, and where most of the arthouse flicks rank.

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