The Gift

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/01/21

In my house, we refer to “a gift” as what the cat leaves on the carpet when the litter box can’t contain all her … enthusiasm. Well, The Gift has enthusiasm to burn, if you know what I’m saying.

Although it just went wide, it looks like this star-studded “supernatural thriller” won’t be earning enough dough to make bagels in the Paramount studio cafeteria. Sources say there hasn’t been this much steam venting from studio honcho Sumner Redstone’s ears since his last waltz with prostate Tae Bo.


Technically, this movie comes courtesy of Paramount Classics. A “classic” used to be something really good that lasts a very long time. Nowadays it evidently means something almost nobody likes that doesn’t last at all. Ah, progress.

The marketing folks at Paramount describe this movie as “an edge-of-your-seat thriller.” Trust me, if I’m on the edge of my seat it’s only because I’m that much closer to the exit.

I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen so much wonderful talent wasted. The Gift is strewn with great performances by top-notch actors like Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, and Hillary Swank.

Unfortunately, every silver cloud has a black lining. And mine eyes have seen the glory of a shockingly bad turn by a horribly miscast Keanu Reeves. And it’s only partially – though notably – redeemed by Katie Holmes’ relentless baring of breasts.

Keanu plays a truck-drivin’, gun-totin’, wife-beatin’, plaid-wavin’, Elvis-talkin’, squirrel-skinnin’, facial hair survivor who’s hell-bent on stopping Cate’s “evil ways.” “Whoa!”

You see, Cate’s got the Sixth Sense – supernatural clairvoyance – which gives her the unique ability to see stuff that hasn’t happened yet or, in the case of box office grosses, something that’ll never happen.

gift_gio.jpgMore bizarre than any plotline is that The Gift was co-written by Billy Bob Thornton and based loosely on his mom. Billy Bob, if you want to do your mom a favor, just send a card. Besides, if your mom can tell the future then how come she didn’t order rewrites on All the Pretty Horses?

I wish I could assume this movie was some monumental joke resulting from director Sam Raimi’s twisted sense of humor, but if I “assume” I’ll make an “ass” out of “u” and “me” and The Gift does that job for us.

Listen to how the marketing department describes Raimi: “Since 1982′s The Evil Dead, a film about five friends who go to a cabin in the woods for a vacation and discover the “Book of Dead”, Sam Raimi has demonstrated his uncanny ability for telling powerful, disconcertingly real stories that delve into the supernatural.” Uh, excuse me, Evil Dead was a cult hit because it was funny! Did you guys even see the movie?

The Gift is plagued with genre clichés like flowers wilting in the psychic lady’s hand and visions of dead bodies floating in mid-air. None of these low-rent thrills are the least bit scary, although the fractured fairy tale pairing of Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes comes awfully close.

My advice: Look this gift-horse in the mouth.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Paramount Classics


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