Phone Booth


          Screenwriter Larry Cohen reportedly dreamt up the idea for the thriller
  
Phone Booth as a project for Alfred Hitchcock to direct. Cohen never did get
  to work with "the master of suspense," though, and his script languished for
  decades before it was dusted off and handed to Joel Schumacher to helm.
  Moving from working as an art director to commanding all activity behind the
  scenes, he has directed everything from dreck (
Batman and Robin) to
  entertaining dramas (
The Client, A Time to Kill) to the in-between (The Lost
    Boys
). He reinvigorated his flagging career with the taut Tigerland that
  introduced moviegoers to up and comer Colin Farrell. So a reteaming between
  Farrell and the director sounded promising.

          Unfortunately, the stars weren't in alignment.
Phone Booth proves
  to be a dreary affair that is as outdated as the notion that the title objects
  still exist on Manhattan streets. Where to begin to dissect Cohen's messy
  screenplay? In building the story around an aggressive press agent who
  would be targeted by a serial killer? (Farrell's Stu Shepard is no Sidney Falco.)
  That said serial killer would not even factor into the police's reactions?
  There's too much reliance on coincidence and technological breakthroughs
  that would have been considered science fiction when Cohen first dreamed
  up the story.

          The film's initial release was postponed after a sniper terrorized the
  citizens of the metropolitan Washington, DC area, and that alone points
  up one of the crucial failing of the movie. The omniscient "caller" who terrorized
  Farrell's publicist confesses to having already shot two other men, a pedophile
  and a corrupt banker. Yet the police don't event connect the dots and
  consider that Farrell could be a target. No, they accept the words of three
  hysterical hookers who claim that Farrell's character pulled a gun and somehow
  shot their pimp in the back while facing Stu.

          Other than allowing perpetually rising star Farrell the chance to finally
  carry a film on his own, there seems little reason for
Phone Booth to have
  been made. (He acquits himself almost without embarrassment: his Bronx
  accent isn't terribly convincing.) The movie wastes the considerable talents
  of Radha Mitchell (cast as Farrell's wife) and Katie Holmes (as a client Stuart
  would like to bed), both of whom have little to do. Kiefer Sutherland lends
  his recognizable vocals to the role of the sniper with a grudge.

          All in all, though, the best thing that can be said for
Phone Booth is
  that it has a blessedly short running time.


                                  Rating:                 D
                                  MPAA Rating:        R for pervasive language and some violence
                                  Running time:       81 mins.

                          Viewed at the Loews 34th Street Cinema
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.