15 Minutes

Bomb Rating: 

It doesn't take a genius to notice that everyone who appears on Jerry Springer or Ricki Lake is a complete idiot. Springer, Lake, and their ilk are sleazeballs who have built careers on the exploitation of people who would have exoskeletons if they were any dumber. Furthermore, it doesn't take a genius to point out that people who are entertained by the stupidity of others share some culpability for the rise of people like Springer and Lake.

In fact, these issues have been pointed out over and over again, which is why writer/director John Herzfeld's "15 Minutes" isn't nearly as illuminating as he fancies it to be. Hence he tosses in every style, song and method under the sun to make sure that somebody is entertained. For starters, Robert De Niro plays Eddie Flemming, a tough cop, while Edward Burns plays Jordy Warsaw, a fire marshal. So lucky us, the movie is already half cop-buddy film and half "Backdraft."

Two immigrants, Emil Slovak (Karel Roden) and Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov), are at the center of the ruckus. Emil calls in a loan by killing the couple who owes it, while Oleg films the act. Eddie and Jordy start tracking them and eventually Emil and Oleg figure out that taping crime may be worth money, because some stupid news program would probably pay for it. To these tiresome characters, Herzfeld adds some tiresome politicizing and shakes it up with that exciting Blair Witch technique -- entailing lots of jumpy, unintelligible video to break up the main storyline's endless litany of unintelligible pop songs.

Ultimately, the movie is like being kicked in the ass a whole bunch of times by a guy who's yelling the same thing at you over and over again. The first time I find myself in such circumstances, I wonder what it is I've done to piss this guy off. The second time, I turn around and kick this guy in the balls as hard as I can. In the film trade, this is called "lodging a complaint," and for the next couple of months, Herzfeld would be well advised to not venture into public without his protective cup.

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