By Mark Ramsey | 2001/02/10

The folks who foisted Saving Silverman on us say they hope their movie will attract audiences looking for an alternative to Hannibal. Especially if it’s an alternative with row after row of elbow room. Forget the movie, Mr. Projectionist. Why not just show Amy Pascal’s home videos from Disneyworld?

Have you seen Hannibal yet? What is wrong with Gary Oldman? Where does he get these wacky character voices? So what, he looks like a cottage cheese-head. Does a cauliflower noggin mean he should talk like mommy’s the Wicked Witch of the West and daddy’s Screech from Saved by the Bell? Gary’s so good at disappearing into his role, why can’t he disappear with it?

hannibal_knife.jpgI guess talking like a fool is what happens when you’re Hannibal Lechter’s only surviving victim and your face has been fed to your dogs – who evidently gobbled up your voice too along with your ability to walk and your screen credit.

Wow, there’s a lot of Hannibal in Hannibal. Then again, they didn’t call this movie “Whoever’s playing Clarice this time.” Okie dokey!

Sir Tony Hopkins returns to the role which made him infamous. Hannibal, of course, has been in hiding for the past ten years while he awaits instructions from Tom Harris, the slow-pokey author of Silence of the Lambs who finally got around to a sequel. In the meantime, Lechter went on to found his own name-brand kitchenware shops in malls across America, certain that the prospect of millions of unholy Hollywood dollars would mean one thing and one thing only: The lambs will never be silent.

This Hannibal just isn’t as scary as the last one, if you ask me. It’s hard to be menaced by an old guy in silk jammies with a cigarette holder and an encyclopedic knowledge of art history. Who are his arch-enemies, Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe? Goody, goody.

Sir Tony submits to all sorts of ignominy in pursuit of millions of unholy Hollywood dollars. In one scene he’s strapped to a forklift, presumably to be properly stacked on a shelf at the Home Depot. In another, he narrowly escapes being eaten by pigs, much like any woman who ever attended a frat party.


Giancarlo Giannini is the Italian cop hot on Hannibal’s trail. Giancarlo is that classical kind of Euro actor who can balance a foot-long column of ashes on the tip of a cigarette dangling from his lips as he jabbers to his mistress on his Nokia while scootering down the Via Veneto snatching cameras off the shoulders of unwary American tourists. Pronto!

If ever there were a character marked for extinction it would be Ray Liotta. The minute he mouths off to Clarice: “I always figured Hannibal for a queer – all that artsy fartsy stuff,” just change his name to Ray Lunch-otta and set your egg-timers, folks. Now I’m not going to blow the surprise of Ray’s fate (which is a little on the surreal side – surreally gross and surreally hilarious), and I don’t want to say it looked like an animated effect, but when his cap came off I saw the Superfriends waving back.

So on my way out of this movie I ran into a TV News crew who, as usual, were determined to ask dumb questions and get dumb answers. Fool that I am, I stepped up to the plate.

“Did you like the movie?” they asked.

“I liked it so much, I’m off for a wonderful meal of fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Too clever by double and not dopey enough by half. End of interview.

It is an unenviable task following up an Oscar-winning modern classic, but where there’s a will and a boatload of cash there’s always a way.

Some movies grow on you in time and others recede. The farther I get from Hannibal, the farther I’d like to be.

Then again, what am I but a rube in cheap shoes.

Photos Copyright ©2001 MGM


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