Serially Putrid

'88 Minutes' is so criminally bad, the filmmakers should go to prison

I really, really like chocolate-covered cherries. They're, like, my favorite candy in the whole wide world, and when I have them, I smile and sometimes sing.

This has absolutely nothing to do with 88 Minutes, the new movie from a grouchy, grousing Al Pacino. I just wanted to say something nice and positive off the bat, to provide a little happiness before the bile I'm about to spew.

The movie stars Pacino as Dr. Jack Gramm, some dickhead with a job you only find in movies. He's a wealthy doctor and college professor in Seattle, where he teaches young people about the minds of serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. After his testimony contributes to the imprisonment of an allegedly sick dude named Jon Forster (Neal McDonough), the guy turns to him in the courtroom and says, "Tick, tock, Doc!" implying that the good doctor's days are numbered.

Years later, when Forster is about to be executed, Gramm receives a phone call telling him he only has 88 minutes to live. In the nine years of Forster's imprisonment, the Seattle Slayer has been killing women in very much the same fashion in which Forster supposedly killed, suggesting that perhaps the wrong man went to jail. With 88 minutes to live, Gramm needs to avoid being implicated in those murders while figuring out how to live. I'm not giving much away here ... it's in the commercials.

As the minutes tick away, Gramm gets a lot of phone calls informing him exactly how many minutes are left before he dies. The future killer also leaves signs for Gramm, my favorite being a vandalized car with the exact amount of minutes left scrawled on the windshield. What if Gramm had stopped for a cup of coffee, or perhaps a healthy salad, before returning to the car? This is one anal and/or psychic serial killer/car molester.

Pacino is just sleepwalking through this thing. The guy looks embalmed, with a comical stack of hair flailing atop his head. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Pacino film worse than this, and he was in Gigli. He just sort of tries to "Pacino" his way through the whole freaking mess, to no avail. The man is hopelessly lost.

I have learned some very important lessons from this particular cinematic exercise, the most important being that Leelee Sobieski is a horrid actress. She so horrid, large seas will become polluted due to the toxins her acting releases into the atmosphere. There's a scene in which her character goes to fire a gun. I don't want to give too much away, but if you should see this movie--and God knows you shouldn't--watch for the precise moment when her character aims the weapon.

Jon Avnet is a criminally bad director. Seriously, somebody should slap some cuffs on the guy and put him in a cell where he can sulk. Let the bastard sit in a corner wearing the orange jumpsuit thing, giving serious thought to the evil he hath wrought upon this world.

Pacino's next movie is Righteous Kill, also directed by Avnet. If that doesn't scare you, consider the fact that the powers-that-be persuaded one Robert De Niro to co-star with him. Coming soon to a theater near you: two film greats fumbling and mugging about. Buy protection, and warn your relatives.

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