The Truth About Charlie

Bomb Rating: 

Mark Wahlberg is to Cary Grant what the kazoo is to the violin. If the guy were capable of less charisma, it would have to occur while he was comatose. To make matters worse, director Jonathan ("The Silence of the Lambs") Demme takes a perfectly good script and pretty much wipes his ass with it. Fine, Demme wanted to remake "Charade" from 1963. Apparently he figured that taking the things that made sense in that film and making them incomprehensible would appeal to modern audiences.

The story of both films is that a woman discovers her dead husband was actually a crook and that he hid millions of dollars from some crook buddies who'd like to collect. She doesn't have the money, but they think she does. And if she doesn't actually have it in her possession, they're pretty convinced that their departed friend hid it somewhere. Regina Lambert (Thandie Newton) is the widow. Suddenly, Joshua Peters (Mark Wahlberg) turns up and seems to be in the right place at the right time. He wants to help too much. Then there's the mysterious agent, Mr. Bartholomew (Tim Robbins), who doesn't seem quite right.

Demme has taken all the coherent elements from the original film and screwed them up completely. I saw the first film and I still couldn't follow this one. His method of plot revelation is absolutely the worst. In the original, the location of the hidden money is revealed in a really unusual way. In Demme's version, Regina just sort of goes "hey, look." In the original, the revelation of many of the characters' true identities and motives is done with a modicum of surprise. In Demme's version, the characters all but flatly announce "I'm not who you think I am."

To make matters worse, Demme's technique would embarrass a porn director. I was particularly fond of the dead guy's point-of-view. Even if this shot, looking up at the faces gazing down at the corpse, were interesting, what the hell is the point? He's dead. Then there are the numerous hand-held shots that basically made me sick. You know, you've got 50 million dollars to make your movie; use the steady cam.

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