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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Phone Booth"


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Colin Farrell
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It's hard to really pinpoint exactly what it is about Joel Schumacher's, "Phone Booth" that makes it one of the worst movies I've ever seen. But first, let me describe it.

The entire movie takes place in and near a phone booth in New York City, where Ferrell plays Stuart Shepard, a small-time two-bit publicity agent who finds himself pinned inside a phone box by an extortionist's sniper rifle. Apparently, the sniper's done research on Shepard and knows that he's had "bad intentions". He's threatening to kill Shepard and anyone else around him if Shepard doesn't do exactly what the sniper wants, including hanging up the phone. What does he want him to do? Confess his sins.

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Colin Farrell/John Enos
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In short, "Phone Booth" feels like a really poor attempt at a movie like "Speed", where the bad guy plays the good guy like a puppet for his own musings. Not that I liked that movie either, but at least it had tension. "Phone Booth", however, is an example of just about everything that can be wrong with a movie. The script was dreadful from the outset, with logistical errors and manipulated dialog that begs for a tomato to be thrown at the screen. Obvious things take place that go entirely unnoticed by the characters for the sole reason of building "suspense", but it only leaves you on the verge of screaming at the screen in anger and frustration.

That aside, the main drawback of the film is a common one: failing to give any depth to any of the characters. Shepard is a two-bit, sleazy sort who'll never really amount to much, that he becomes an uninteresting victim for the antagonist to choose in the first place. In fact, he's so shallow, that he never actually did anything wrong in the first
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Colin Farrell/Keith Nobbs
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place. He's contemplated having an affair, but it seems more like a fantasy he never really intended to follow through on. At this point, even if Shepard confesses, we think, "so what?" He's simply not important enough to care about his confessions.

Similarly, the sniper himself is questionable. We are presented with a shadowy figure acting as the omniscient judge and jury by forcing them to see their actions at the end of a gun barrel. If the sinner doesn't repent, he's killed. But anyone that has any knowledge of human nature knows that people who are under duress - i.e., have a gun pointed at them - will (and do) say anything that the killer wants them to say to
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Forest Whitaker
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save himself. So, what value is there to watching someone confess sins under these conditions? If Shepard confesses, we don't care, and if he doesn't confess, he's just an idiot.

I rarely make this statement, so I don't take it lightly when I say that "Phone Booth" is one of the worst movies I've seen in recent memory. So, if you do see it, at least make it a collect call by having someone else pay your way. You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0183649

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