Phone Booth, which was originally scheduled for release late last year, but was delayed due the sniper killings in Washington, D.C., is a perfect example of a disappointing film with an excellent trailer.
Between the exciting, original concept (man answers call in phone booth, and is told if he hangs up the phone, he will be shot), and the exciting trailer, this film looked as if it was sure to be a taut thriller.
The film starts with a completely unnecessary expository voiceover about the importance of telephones.
After that, viewers are introduced to Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell), an obvious sleazeball of a publicist.
Stu wears a hideous purple shirt and is obviously trying to seem way more important than he actually is.
Stu is married to the lovely Kelly, played by Radha Mitchell, but apparently goes to the same phone booth everyday to call the equally lovely Pamela McFadden (Katie Holmes), who may be his mistress.
On this particular day, however, he receives the telltale call from the anonymous sniper.
From there, Stu angers a pimp named Leon (John Enos III) and his stable of hookers (led by Paula Jai Parker, hamming it up as a walking stereotype named Felicia) by refusing to get off the phone.
By a twist of fate, Leon ends up dead, and the cops who come on the scene (led by Forest Whitaker as Capt. Ramey) have reason to believe Stu killed him.
This indeed sounds like an engaging premise, but the movie goes to crap on several fronts.
First, Director Joel Schumacher’s work appears shoddy.
The special effects look low budget, and the split screen the movie often utilizes only serves as an unnecessary distraction.
The main problem with the movie is Larry Cohen’s script, which features characters acting in ways no normal person would, as well as many film devices so big they cannot be ignored.
For example, Leon’s circumstances lead to a conclusion that is such an anti-climactic copout, one can’t help but forget the several tense scenes that came before it.
The only people that escape this mess relatively unscathed are the performers.
Farrell turns in yet another convincing performance, in which he manages to make his slimy character rather sympathetic.
And the supporting cast does their best with their underwritten parts.
Phone Booth clocks in at a brief 80 minutes, which makes the movie feel rushed as it seems to end just as it starts to get going.
So, if you still want to see this movie, at least wait for the director’s cut on DVD.
Chuck Delross can be reached at Chaluchy@aol.com.