Was this pitched to Morgan Freeman as Along Came a Paycheck? If you’re Paramount, Along Came a Box Office Disappointment will suffice.
This movie is the prequel to Kiss the Girls, which needed a prequel like Regis needs whiter teeth.
A crime is committed, and it’s up to Morgan to put together the unlikeliest of clues in the most improbable of ways. It’s a ride brimming with plot points so forgettable you’ll be playing connect-the-dots with Morgan’s blemishes (see if you can find the pony). The biggest thrills here came as I watched the second hand sweep past “12″ roughly 120 times.
There it goes again.
Monica Potter’s a secret service agent, even if her primary secrets are beauty ones. Monica’s name may not spell “box office,” but when Detective Morgan Freeman jumbles the letters, they do spell “carpet motion,” and that certainly sums up Monica’s appeal. Although her golden hair and dark brown brow tell me her carpet and drapes called off diplomatic relations years ago. If the Good Lord takes all things cute, swabs them into a petri dish, and spooges in some L’Oréal, you have the most Paramountable Ms. Potter.
In a fit of anxiety Monica begins biting her nails, which is no problem since they’ll press right back on. Monica also talks into her wrist – not because she’s on a radio but because her wrist is the only thing listening. Monica’s character name is “Jezzie,” which is short for “Jez get this over with.”
When a Prep School teacher turns kidnapper, Monica explains his curriculum to Detective Morgan with these incredible words: “He was teaching the kids how everything on the Internet is connected.” Um, duh. Except the plot to anything interesting.
Naturally, the kidnapper calls Morgan right off the bat. And he keeps calling. And he visits Morgan at home. He offers a work carpool and a bowling double-date, but Morgan graciously declines. Just add each other to your Christmas card list, boys, the audience wants to go home.
So the bad guy kidnaps a Congressman’s daughter as an imitation of the famous Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, because even after 70 years there’s no statute of limitations on copycat crimes. In fact, I’m ready to copycat the Boston Tea Party, but I can’t find a schooner bearing tea kegs anywhere in the harbor and my three-pointed hat’s at the cleaners. Taxation without representation bites the big one.
At one thrilling juncture, they find the little girl’s sweater floating in the water – they know it’s hers because she has a nametag on it big enough to merit her own designer boutique at Neiman Marcus.
To get back the kid, Detective Morgan must race up and down all over DC in what we hope is a climax but is instead only a climb. He bounces from payphone to payphone, abandoned cell phone to cell phone, in search of his prey. Forget the fancy footwork, Morgan, just trace all those cell phone accounts, for God’s sake.
My mind was boggled when Morgan went web-browsing for a Charles Lindbergh photo which somehow turns into a live web-cam in the perpetrator’s apartment. Fortunately, unlike web-cams manufactured on planet Earth, this one has infinitely powerful resolution – “Zoom-O” – such that the Feds can read the bad guy’s name and address off a prescription bottle and track him down in seconds! Even a guy in the audience yelled “No way!” To Hell with DNA, just open Internet Explorer!
Spider also stars Billy Burke. She was so good as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz back in 1939 and now through some Rick Bakeresque makeup miracle plays a young male secret service agent. There’s a clue in there somewhere, and these filmmakers desperately need to get one.
To quote Monica, “this is worse than killing time.” I’d rather sit on my tuffet eating curds and whey than slide up alongside this spider.
Photos Copyright ©2001 Paramount Pictures