The Cell

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By Mark Ramsey | 2000/08/27

The Cell opens with Jennifer Lopez trekking through the Sahara to the kind of annoying, cacophonic Indian music designed with no attention whatsoever to a dance solo. It’s supposed to be a dream, but if this is a dream then why is Jennifer wearing so many clothes?

Poor Vince Vaughn. As a G-Man, Vince is the scruff-daddy saddled with every G-Man dialogue cliché known to man and a few known only to “the man”:

“There’s one thing I know for certain, if we can’t stop him…” Then he’ll kill again, Vince! Say it! Your team is already lip-synching the words!

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“If we don’t find her within 24 hours….” she’s gonna die! Say it! We’ll all hum along!

What was the working title for this movie, Starsky & Vaughn? This is what happens when the writer uses that screenplay software with the Lethal Weapon auto-insert button.

Vince’s job is to improv ways to use “Vegas” in a sentence and track down a “baby” held victim by a very “money” comatose serial murderer, Vincent D’Onofrio.

D’Onofrio has steel rings pierced into his back which means not only that he can hang in mid-air over dead bodies and masturbate, but also that he’s sure to top the list of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Curtain Rods.

These clever FBI guys investigate with the assistance of dim interior lighting and cunning rhetorical questions: “Guess what color the car is?” The color of D’Onofrio’s car, of course, don’t answer the question! “Guess who they hired to seal up the land?” D’Onofrio again, natch! Damn it, man, this is a criminal investigation, not Jeopardy! Drop the audio daily double, agent Trebek, and try searching for our suspect in the bath section at Pottery Barn.

Vince’s captive “baby”, whom we don’t know and don’t care about, is locked in a glass cell surrounded by video cameras. First she gets sprayed with water like a head of lettuce, and if she sticks around for 24 hours the cell fills up, drowning the victim in what I pray is the season finale to CBS’s Big Brother.

cell_gunwrong.jpgOf course, this is one of those automated torture devices that takes a long time to kill while providing a long time to escape, much like the machines used to kill Batman once a week in the 60′s.

Jennifer hooks up to a fantastical high-tech gizmo in order to get inside people’s brains and cure them of schizophrenia – or help them go sailing, the story’s not that clear. But at the end, D’Onofrio gets inside Jen’s brain and I’ll say this: Of all the places inside Jennifer Lopez I’d like to be, her brain doesn’t rank in the top five.

Jennifer smokes pot and appears as the Virgin Mary, although not in the same same scene which makes it okay, I guess. Shouldn’t Mary’s drug of choice be Angel Dust?

This movie reminds me of that old William Hurt flick, Altered States, where Bill enters a sensory deprivation tank and loses it so hard he devolves into a prehistoric man and rampages across the countryside until the appalled screenwriter takes his name off the project in abject humiliation and Anne Heche wanders on set to recruit astronauts because her spaceship is double-parked at Johnny Rockets on Melrose.

Speaking of abject humiliation, Vince’s knucklehead partner is named “Ramsey.” Between roles like that and essays like these, the Ramseys are getting a really bad name!

The Cell is a two-hour music video with no singing, no dancing, no Carson Daly, and a murderous curtain rod. What’s not to like?

Hear the exclusive MovieJuice! interview with The Cell star Vincent D’Onofrio. He kicks my pansy ass in a game of celebrity Battleship! A lucky game of celebrity Battleship, I might add. Hear it for yourself.


Photos Copyright ©2000 New Line Pictures

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