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April 22, 2008

"88 minutes" with an eye on the clock

by Lucas Alvarado-Farrar, Online Features Editor
As if uniting all the flaws of thrillers past, "88 minutes" indulges the viewer with nothing more than an over-rushed, under-performed and simply miserable outing. Taking the title to heart, director Jon Avnet and writer Gary Scott Thompson have seemingly slapped together a film in as little time as possible in the hopes that nobody would notice. They take a lackadaisical approach to camera shots, fluidity and continuity that places it in the halls of movie "greats:" "The Maize: The Movie," "Sweetie Pie" and "Evil Behind You."

Only by name does the once-glorified Al Pacino, who plays a drowsy looking playboy psychiatrist with nothing short of a Kramer inspired hair-do, resurrect some dignity to "88." As if expecting to dazzle, Pacino falls flat and falls hard. He comes across arrogant and confused; perhaps appropriately yet the script does little to support his choices.

88 Minutes

(released April 18, 2008)
Chips Rating:
1 stars
R
User Rating:
1.5 stars Votes: 9
After receiving a mysterious phone call, Psychiatrist Jack Gramm races against the clock to avoid his own death. Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
The blame cannot fall solely on Pacino as he is surrounded by a lousy group of incompetent and consistently un-entertaining actors all tossed into the depths of an overly dramatized plot. The sadistic rape of a Japanese twin, hung up like a slaughtered pig, by serial murderer Jon Forrester (Neal McDonough) sets the scene. From there the movie jumps 10 years to Forrester's conviction aided by material testimony from Dr. Jack Gramm (Al Pacino), a national entity in forensic psychiatry. Suddenly, after a long night of celebrating the conviction, Gramm receives a mysterious, distorted phone call telling him he has 88 minutes to live and the chase is on.

Unlike Gramm, however, the audience will begin to wish the clock was counting down faster. With so many plot revelations and poorly scripted twists combined in such a short period, any suggestion of suspension of disbelief is quickly evaporated. This is only augmented by the apocalyptic depiction of Seattle, the all too-conveniently willing and able teaching assistant Alicia Witt (Kim Cummings) and the undeniable over use of unenlightening special effects.

In the cheesiest impression of Clue, "88 minutes" leaves the audience wondering who killed the movie in the theaters with the plot. Perhaps it was Professor Playboy Pacino with the spray-on tan in the Seattle penthouse, or maybe it was Razzling Writer Thompson with the one-liners in the Hollywood suite, or perchance it was the Sappy Supporting Superstars with the predictable acting on the silver screen.

Not to lambast the movie completely, it was sufficiently stumping. Thoroughly confusing to the point of laughter which was later followed by a release of sleep inducing melatonin, the stumping was of the too-hard-to-follow-brain-shutting-down brand. The 88 minutes of fruitless thrill are followed up with a remarkably unsatisfying revelation of the killer. The film lacked the "on your toes" feeling that should come along with the unmasking of a slayer.

The movies of summer seem to have arrived all too soon. Those endless spools of flawed film have managed to roll their way into the hands of theater managers across the country. They are inescapable. From thrillers to comedies they clog the display boards and feature attractions list, yet they offer little substance. Both painful and dull, "88 minutes" alludes that Hollywood producers seek to expand summer movies into the months of April and May.

"88 Minutes" (108 minutes) is Rated R for disturbing violent content, brief nudity and language. Now playing everywhere



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