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Monday, February 04, 2008

The Eye

One evening when I was seventeen I found myself lucky enough to be at a table across from the legendary Sammy Davis Jr. in a lounge at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. I smiled at the singer and, in return, he gave me the eye. Now I don’t know what you would do in that kind of situation, but I threw up in my mouth a little bit and then handed it back to him. I’m sorry, but I don’t think offering a girl your glass eye as an opening salvo is going to get you very far in the romance department even if you are a big star. At least, it’s not going to work with me. Unless you’re Hugh Jackman, of course.

There’s something about eyes that just makes us squeamish, and so it is the perfect target for a horror movie. What part of us ~ all of us, male and female ~ are the most vulnerable and most valuable part of our outer body but our eyes? That’s why I thought it was stupid that the remake of the Chinese film now turned into an American spooky-doo is called
The Eye when it is really about both of them. The “them” in this case being the eyes of blind violinist Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba; Good Luck Chuck).

Now I know bupkis about corneal transplants, so I called my perfect doctor, Scott Luria, to get the 4-1-1. Most people think I’m exaggerating when I say that Dr. Luria is “perfect”, but, trust me, he is. First off, he is gorgeous AND charming AND brilliant at what he does, but he is also a guy who bicycles to his office in Burlington from his home in Williston and back again every day, even in the rain and snow. Let me repeat that: even in the rain and snow. Oy! His idea of a vacation is to take his kids and bicycle across entire states and then camp out. Can you imagine? I would rather eat bugs and die. Not that I avoid exercise you understand. In 1987 I moved the bicycle in our basement from one corner to another after I accidentally dropped a bag of potato chips behind it. Anyway, perfect Dr. Luria was unavailable for consultation at the time of my call, so I went to see The Eye sans any medical authority, leaving me to swallow whatever bull-pucky writer Sebastian Gutierrez (Snakes on a Plane) wanted to shovel my way.

Okay, so Sydney Wells is the most well-adjusted and happy blind person of all time, but she is still getting corneal implants, and the day before she is visited by her flight attendant sister Helen (Parker Posey; Superman Returns), who is guilt-ridden because she feels responsible for the firecracker accident that took away her younger sister’s sight fifteen years earlier. Yawn!

Once Sydney has her new eyes installed, she gets a visit from a cancer-ridden ten-year old girl
named Alicia (Chloe Moretz; tv’s “Dirty Sexy Money”), who ought to be tied down in the cancer ward but seems to be running the halls pestering the other patients for no apparent reason. She decides to hang with Sydney even though Syd still has bandages on her eyes and looks like she’s wearing a bra on her face. Once Sydney is well enough to be discharged though, she even poses for a picture with the girl, knowing they may never see one another again. This could be the awkward moment where the soft-of-heart are supposed to muster up a tear. I used the scene to put more cheese topping on my popcorn, which somehow seemed appropos, you know?

You’d think this would be the end, right? Booooring. Nope. Next thing you know, Sydney is pulling a Haley Joel Osment and is seeing dead people everywhere. Some are ho-hum, not such a big deal, but others are jump-out-of-your-skin scary, and Syd can never tell if they are trying to kill her or not. Well, except for one friendly ghost, and, no I’m not talking about Casper, but it should come as no surprise that Alicia makes another appearance, only this time she’s done circling the drain and has already gone down it. What bothered me most was the idea that this poor child kicked the bucket and even as a spirit she didn’t get her hair back after spending her last months bald from chemotherapy. Damn! This is one harsh God on the other side. And He didn’t even give her anything else to wear as a ghost but that nasty old hospital jonnie? That is just not right in anybody’s religion. But I digress.

When in doubt, see a specialist, that’s what my perfect Dr. Luria, would suggest, and that’s exactly where Sydney heads. Naturally, her new doc is a part-time GQ model, with the three-day stubble, tousled hair, great tan, perfect smile, killer bod, and willingness to forget those doctor/patient boundaries.

Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola; Grace is Gone) is supposed to help Sydney adapt to life as a seeing person. His job is to teach her to assimilate the sounds she hears into the sights she now sees as well as how to prioritize what of the hundreds of things she is seeing at any given time are important, dangerous, desirable, etc. Before long, though, he ends up being as much a Hercule Poirot teamed up with Syd’s version of Nancy Drew as they investigate the growing visions that appear to be slowly piecing themselves together like some kind of macabre jigsaw puzzle.

That puzzle eventually leads them to Mexico and the mother of Ana Christina Martinez (Fernanda Romero; Carts). Yep. Dr. Paul gave up the confidential information about the donor of Sydney’s corneas, something I know my own Dr. Scott would never do even if he was being water-boarded by an entire string section of visually-impaired apparition-seeing symphony members.

I won’t tell you where the plot ventures from this point because it is not where you probably think. The obvious resolution of the story is not the end of this tale. Instead, a much more dramatic twist comes in the last ten minutes or so of the movie that will have your heart racing and keep you on the edge of your seat. In spite of Jessica Alba.
It’s sad but true that
The Eye is going to be an albatross around Alba’s neck for some time. Oh, the movie will make oodles of money because it is a horror movie and they always turn a profit no matter how lame, but The Eye is Alba’s first movie that she carries entirely on her name recognition alone. In her previous films she has always co-starred with a large cast (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Sin City) or she simply had to doff her clothes and hang out in a bikini (Into the Blue). Here, she does have the built-in horror audience who will automatically show-up, but for the movie to cross over into the mainstream it is going to have to rely on her star power, if she has any.

Like I said above, the last few minutes were exciting, but otherwise, my jaded eyes were not startled by what I saw. In fact, I’ve been more scared about the outcome of most Plinko games during almost any episode of “The Price is Right.” That’s not to say that newcomers to the genre won’t enjoy it though. I have to remind myself that I’ve lived through Nixon, Reagan, AND both Bushes, so I’ve seen a lot more nightmares than most of the audience for this kind of movie. Anyone younger than 25 may actually find
The Eye “fresh,” and I sincerely hope they have a terrific time.

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