The Safety of Objects (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

I've changed the message on my phone answering machine, just in case I'm out when the Lifetime Channel calls, because when they get around to looking for their lost movie, I've found it.

The person who wrote the following comment at meant it to be praise, but as you can see, it could not be a stronger warning if it came with a cow skull and crossbones.

"A gorgeous collage of human details, The Safety of Objects intertwines the stories of four families living as neighbors in a pleasant suburb, all of them grappling in various ways with the aftermath of a car accident that left a teenager in a coma."


Jessica Campbell masturbates outside, topless.

That says it all. It contains three of the four key warning signs of imminent boredom:
  • gorgeousness
  • aftermath-grappling
  • child in a coma or dying

The fourth sign was missing. The only way to make it worse is if the reviewer had said that the film was a "tone poem".

One of the families lost a promising son to an accident, and he lay in a coma. One of the ladies next door has been having an affair with coma boy. Well, you know, before the coma. Coma boy's mother continued to dedicate her life to him, causing her husband and daughter no end of grief over their neglect. The hippies next door worshipped coma boy as a god. The cute little boy next door wanted to use him as a sled or as home plate. And so forth.

I fabricated the last two, in case you are a DENSA member.

DVD info from Amazon

  • no features

  • widescreen anamorphic. Beautiful transfer.

What really happened is that each of the families dealt with life in that special way used by stereotyped characters in family-centered melodramas, except that in this case they were forced to do so without the calm, reassuring, introspective presence of Kevin Kline. Kline is probably in court with these people, because his contract specifically requires him to be in this kind of movie. Maybe he had a conflict, and was courageously dying of cancer in another film.

It really needed Uma Thurman to show up and start slashing people with Samurai swords. When you get sick of the guy, freakin' Tarantino seems to be ubiquitous, but where is he when you really need him?


The Safety of Objects (2001) is a portrait of the evils of suburbia told by showing 4 families living in adjacent houses. The film boasts and impressive array of talent, including Glenn Close, Moira Kelly, Mary Kay Place and Robert Klein. The film is based on a series of short stories, which were intercut to create a supposedly coherent portrait of suburban hell. Close is dealing with a son, former promising musician, now a vegetable due to an auto accident. Another mother is recently divorced, and trying to be super mom. One of the kids is sexually fixated on his Barbie doll.

The problem with the film was way too many characters, and a confusing narrative style. It's competently filmed and acted, with some compelling moments, but disjointed, and not enough real problems to make us sympathize with the characters."

The Critics Vote ...

  • General USA consensus: two stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4.

  • General UK consensus: two stars. Mail 4/10, Telegraph 6/10, Independent 1/10, Times 6/10, Sun 5/10, Express 6/10, , Mirror 6/10, BBC 4/5

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed a whopping $319,000 over a 14 week arthouse run that capped at 43 theaters.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. I guess it can't be any lower than that because it had a reasonably good collection of reviews. I found it completely predictable, and sheer torture to watch. I had to drop it from a C to a C- because of the absence of Kevin Kline and Tone Poetry. Tuna says, "This is a C-, competently filmed and acted, with some compelling moments, but disjointed, and not enough real problems to make us sympathize with the characters."

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