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Sunday, April 20, 2008

88 Minutes

My precious husband, whom I wouldn’t trade in for anyone in the world except (see list*) apparently has no need for all his appendages. This became trés obvious earlier this week when I told him I was going to see the new movie 88 Minutes.

“They made a movie about how long it takes for you to put on your make-up every morning?” he asked.

Need I say more? Probably not, but, of course, I did. It’s in my nature, and when I suggested 88 Minutes was more obviously the time he spent every morning on the toilet we spent the rest of breakfast in silence. Except for the incessant sound of his constant chewing. Sigh.

Perhaps you can tell that my perfect hubby has been home a lot lately. He’s been recuperating from surgery, and so he’s not been at work, unless you consider
working my last nerve ‘work’. I am now beginning to understand why the whole socio-economic system was created: to keep men and women out of one another’s hair at least eight hours a day so they won’t feel like killing each other every 88 Minutes or so. Even if you are madly, truly in love, one bathroom is not enough between two people who are of an age when sneezing could lead to an unexpected laundry tragedy. But I’m digressing. That’s not the sort of thing you want to hear about, and yet let me point out that both my hubby and I are not nearly as aged as Al Pacino, yet I’ll bet you never think of Al as having a bladder control problem, now do you?

Apparently neither do any of the women he is surrounded with in his latest release, 88 Minutes. What is it about these geezer male movie stars that insist they be perceived as some kind of young stud-muffin on screen, desired by every gorgeous woman he sees that is young enough to be his daughter or even granddaughter? No one will ever convince me that Al has had cosmetic surgery as was rumored a few years back because he has a face that looks like it was left out in the sun in 1974 without an SPF in sight. Okay, okay, so the guy is 68 this week (Happy Birthday, Al!), but even as he makes his first appearance in 88 Minutes he is doing the stinky shuffle with Carrie Genzel (tv’s “Under One Roof”), a relatively ancient 37 year old, as his disposable thing that goes hump in the night du jour. It gets worse.

The story at the heart of 88 Minutes begins a bit before we get to Pacino though. It starts in Seattle, September 1, 1997, the day after Princess Diana died, not that this has anything to do with the tale except her picture in the paper is used to set the time period. Two young women return home from a night out and one goes directly to bed while the other stops to track down their cat to feed him. I just have to say, this is why if you are going to have a cat (and I have several), do yourself a favor and don’t give it some dumbass cutesy-poo name like “Mr. McSnickerdoodle”. If you are going to die being murdered by a serial killer in your home do you really want your last words to be something as lame as “Mommy has some treats for Mr. McSnickerdoodle?” There has to be a special ring in Hell for people who die that way, I’m just sayin’. Anyway, naturally, she bites the dust thanks to a masked intruder with a sick S&M fetish. Her roommate, who happens to be her twin sister, does a tad bit better. She survives the attack, but just barely, and only because the killer is interrupted before he can finish the job.

So cut to the present and Al’s character, Dr. Jack Gramm, is a fabulously wealthy
University professor and consulting forensic psychiatrist for the FBI. It also happens to be the day before the midnight execution of Jon Forster (Neal McDonough; The Hitcher), convicted of the murder and attempted murder of the Cates’ sisters back in 1997. The state’s case against Forster was based almost entirely upon Gramm’s testimony, which was built on theory and circumstantial evidence. Now, somebody is making a last minute attempt to stop the execution ~ one way or another.

The morning begins for Gramm with a grilling by the FBI and his old friend Special Agent Frank Parks (William Forsythe; Halloween) regarding a copycat murder exactly like the Cates’ killing which has occurred only a few hours earlier; the victim was a woman Gramm himself was seen with the night before at a party in a local bar. Coincidence or what? Could Gramm be involved, or is this somehow proof that his testimony was wrong and the real killer in the Forster case was still at large?

When this questioning is finished, Gramm goes on to the University and no sooner does he arrive on campus before he receives a troubling phone call from a stranger telling him he has ~ you got it ~ 88 Minutes to live. He shrugs the call off at first and goes in to teach his class, but after another couple of calls marking the countdown, and then a closer and more personal reminder appears which sends him chills, he sparks the attention of his students, especially his lovely teaching assistant Kim (32-year old Alicia Witt; Last Holiday), Lauren (24-year-old Leelee Sobieski; Walk All Over Me), and Mike (29-year-old Benjamin McKenzie; tv’s “The O.C."), Dr. Gramm finally becomes a paranoid believer.

The positively prehistoric (at nearly 45) Deborah Kara Unger (Silent Hill) also lurks about as Gramm’s way too cranky Dean at the University and (43-year-old relic) Amy Brenneman (tv’s “Private Practice”) as his Lesbian go-to-gal and “Gosh-if-I-was-straight-I’d-want-to-sleep-with-you-too” assistant Shelly help complicate the already way too complicated plot which has copycat killings popping up as often as Dr. Gramm’s um, well, you get the idea. As a matter of fact, you can probably guess that it doesn’t even take an hour (thank goodness, considering the title!) before Gramm is implicated in one of the murders, since his “womb gargle” is found in one of the dead 20-something’s va-ja-ja.

If this all sounds like a bit of a mess, it is, but it is also a well-paced thriller and holds its cards close to the chest. I was pretty sure I had it figured out early on who was doing what (and I was right), but there were enough twists and turns to make me doubt myself quite a few times before the final minutes of the film provide the big reveal.

88 Minutes was written by Gary Scott Thompson, who authored 106 episodes of the tv series “Las Vegas” and was directed by tv veteran Jon Avnet (“Starter Wife”), which may explain the reason the movie feels as if it is a bit lower budget looking than you might expect of a big Hollywood who-dunnit. The scenes are tight, with lots of close and medium shots, and camera moves that look classic to the genre, the only thing missing are pauses for commercials, and if 88 Minutes was going to have those, the logical choice would be for condoms, caller i.d. services, and wrinkle cream.

*Faithful readers are already aware that my perfect husband has long accepted my feverish need to explore the carnal joys of the male species. To do so, however, would require that I marry the man who I desire, and so I have compiled a list of the gentlemen I would care to experience. Granted, in each case, I’d not expect any of these relations to last longer than a week or two at the longest. Then, like the much maligned Black Widow, I’d simply drain each of these luscious lovelies of all their
appropriate bodily fluids and, at the end of our honeymoon, I’d cast them to the wind like dandelions, and let the dried husks of their former selves float free on the air currents while I would then return, memories tucked away in secret, to my perfect husband.

*Approved Future Ex-Husbands’ List (in no particular order):
Hugh Jackman
Jake Gyllenhaal
Ewan McGregor
Ryan Reynolds
Jude Law
Collin Farrell
Gerard Butler

Oh, and in case anyone wants to snipe about
MY list of would-be (ahem) escorts being younger than me, and how I shouldn’t criticize Mr. Pacino, I simply must point out that, unlike Monsieur Pacino, I am not perpetuating a myth through my participation in a long-standing cinematic falsity. I must, sadly, also admit that while I was never interested in younger men before my current marriage, now, alas, ALL available men are younger than me.

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