Tempted (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
A rich old tough guy (Burt Reynolds) finds out that he's dying. He wonders whether his beautiful young wife (Saffron Burrows) really loves him and deserves to get all of his inheritance. So he hires a handsome young law student (Peter Facinelli) to make a run at his wife: $10,000 to try, $50,000 to succeed. Trouble ensues.
The problem is that the screenwriter didn't have the courage to stick with this premise.
In the middle of the film, the young law student's best friend commits a front page murder of the governor's son (a gay thing gone wrong). The law student gets involved in disposing of the body, and therefore gets cops trailing him when the friend tells the police "I was with my law student buddy that night". Meanwhile, the rich guy decides that he doesn't trust either his wife or the guy he hired to seduce his wife, so he also hires a private detective agency to follow the law student and bug his every move.
You see what I mean? In the midst of a story already on the edge of losing all credibility, the law student gets involved in a completely unrelated murder ... and that murder sub-plot never gets developed in any way.
Anyway, now we have the kid running around God's half-acre followed by the cops and a private dick, and the story gets even more complicated when the wife finds out that the kid has been paid to seduce her. She gets so pissed off at her husband that she lets the kid succeed in his clumsy seduction, even though she genuinely loved the old geezer and had no intention of cheating on him before she found out about the payment.
It gets WAY more complicated but the bottom line is - everybody ends up trying to kill and/or blackmail everyone else. The cops, the husband, the private detective, the wife, the gay best friend, the husband's lawyer (who is interested in the young trophy wife), and the husband's beloved bodyguard all end up as separate interests, all packin' heat, all trying to kill pretty much everyone else, all coming together in two atmospheric shoot-outs, first in an above-ground cemetery, and then in the swamp.
Luckily for them, that's all legal in Louisiana.
Do you see now why I began this review with a Python quote? This film started out with a nice little idea, then got too silly.
|There was the core of a good movie here. The premise was reasonably intriguing, the actors were solid, the N'awlins atmosphere looked and sounded appropriately steamy, and some of the pseudo-noir dialogue and narrative was entertaining. But the screenwriter needed to let the original premise play out without introducing so many outlandish elements. Somehow, the film managed to migrate from a nice tight little Cajun noir to a concluding scenario so preposterous that it needed Colonel Too Silly.||
Thoughts on Burt Reynolds:
If you think of Burt Reynolds at all, your thoughts are probably associated with fast cars, Hal Needham, and above all, the 1970s. Burt owned the 70s. He was one of the biggest box office draws of that era (#1 five years in a row on the Quigley List - he and Bing Crosby are the only men ever to do so), was ubiquitous on talk shows, and frequently won popularity contests like the People's Choice Awards ("most popular all-around movie star" six consecutive years).
Unless you're a serious movie buff, you probably wonder what he's doing now. "Let's see, he was in Boogie Nights, but that must have been about ten years ago ... "
Well, guess what? Burt has made more movies in the past ten years (releases from 1996-2005) than he made in the 70s.
A lot more.
Burt Reynolds 1970-79
Burt Reynolds 1996-2005
Your first reaction is probably, "yeah, but look at the quality of the projects".
That was my thought.
Until I looked it up.
There was no significant difference in the IMDb ratings in the two decades. Burt made a lot of movies in the 1970s, and some of them were highly popular, but they weren't any good. His best movie in the 1970s was Deliverance, which was good, but he was in two movies just as good as that in the 1990s, directed by two top guys, Robert Altman and P.T. Anderson. His current movies are more obscure than the ones he made in the 70s, but the movies are not really significantly worse.
Here's his personal top 10 list:
The real differences between 70s Burt and the Burt of today are: (1) He's not an above-the-title box office draw any more. People don't look at the newspaper on Friday to see when "the new Burt Reynolds movie" is playing. He acts in a lot of small, independent projects. (2) If you figured out his average amount of screen time per film, you'll see that the films are not focused on him they way they used to be. (3) After some ugly break-ups with women who seemed to be very nice people (Sally Field and Loni Anderson, for example), in circumstances which seemed to portray Burt as the bad guy (whether true or not), his image as a lovable ol' boy was shattered. You'll notice he doesn't usually get the lovable ol' boy roles now, the roles he should be getting based on his 70s persona having aged thirty years.
All of the above factors explain a lot about why people don't seem to be aware of him much any more. The rest of the explanation resides in the fact that his career really did come close to flatlining in the period in between the 70s and now. The popular "70s Burt" dragged into the 80s for about 2-3 years, with Cannonball Run, Sharky's Machine and Best Little Whorehouse, then he hit bottom. Look at his career between Best Whorehouse and The Player:
Whoa! I think the best way to summarize those years is as follows. I don't remember whether I have seen most of those movies, and I can't recall any details about the ones I do remember seeing.
Even serious movie buffs are challenged to spout quotes from Cannonball Run II.
(After I wrote that, I checked IMDb. They have a long collection of quotes from CRII. For a good laugh, check out the cast from that movie, which starred every single actor in Hollywood, including the entire Rat Pack. The far-reaching IMDb even has a few quotes from the timeless cinema classic, Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3.)
Anyway, the point is that ol' Burt had quite a slump.
But he also had a major comeback, and he's now working just as much as ever. Maybe he hasn't aged the way you would have expected, but he's still in demand when directors need certain types of older guys. In fact, he's working more than ever, and he's doing better work. His level of performing has actually improved in its depth as well as its range. Who would have thought back then that shallow, glib 70s Burt would have become one of the dependable, versatile character actors in the indy films of the new millennium.
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