Johnny America


Film: Match­stick Men


I’ve been up for twen­ty-six hours but it’s on­ly 6:30. If I lay down now, it’s dream­land ’til 3:00, then twist­ing in bed un­til 7:00, try­ing to find my lost slum­ber. I pull up to the megaplex , ab­sorb the posters, and cross-ref­er­ence the show times. Ah, Nic Cage stars, Ri­d­ley Scott di­rects — one tick­et for Match­stick Men, please. The pre­views roll through and I think to my­self that Tom Cruise looks like a badass in his up­com­ing Samu­rai movie. The cred­its start and they’re styl­ish in a Rat Pack way; this movie has po­ten­tial, I think.

Fif­teen min­utes in and the film’s over for me. Nic Cage is The Neu­rot­ic Con Man Who Just Needs Love. Al­i­son Lohman has­n’t graced the screen, but the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a long-lost child has been men­tioned, so her part’s an easy pick. Neu­rot­ic Nic’s al­ready been through the fetch­ing gro­cery store clerk’s line twice, so you that’s a Big Hint. Sam Rock­well plays Cage’s part­ner-in-crime and ap­pren­tice; ever see a flick where the con man gets conned? Dear Di­rec­tor Ri­d­ley Scott: Please make your films less predictable.

I try to send Nic Cage’s char­ac­ter a tele­path­ic com­mu­niqué: you have a swim­ming pool / go swim­ming with her / you haven’t been laid in 15 years / mo­lest this so-called daugh­ter who is con­ning you. Fa­ther Thief does­n’t touch his nymphet daugh­ter, though; he gets suck­ered. The char­ac­ters are like­able, and I feel gen­uine emo­tion when one or an­oth­er’s screw­ing the oth­er over, or do­ing some­thing Good — it’s a shame to see fine act­ing and high pro­duc­tion val­ues in a movie as for­mu­la­ic as a Punch and Judy show.

Filed under Films on September 18th, 2003

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