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Movie Review: The Gift

Story: I would like to have returned The Gift but United Artists Theaters doesn't do returns. So my gift to you is - SAVE YOUR MONEY! - unless you crave another film that perpetuates the southern stereotype. You know what they are: rednecks, racism, incest, patricide, Satanism, child molestation, spousal abuse, stammering and drooling. The film was directed by seasoned veteran Sam Raimi (with an uneven resume that includes such films as A Simple Plan, Young Hercules) and written by experienced team Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson (One False Move). You would think with this kind of pedigree it would be good, but it is pure schlock, run of the mill and predictable. I laughed in many places where I should have been frightened or involved in the plot. The story is old and simple. The Gift of psychic vision is possessed by a widow with three children who helps the doubting police find a missing 'oose woman's murdered body. It is hackneyed and utterly unbelievable. There us an additional story involving a mentally retarded young man (as in all of Billy Bob Thornton's stuff). STAY AWAY!

Acting: The excellent cast must have signed up for this cockamamie film before they actually saw the script. Years from now they will have some good laughs over this career choice. Cate Blanchett is a wonderful actress. If she wasn't in the film I would have left after twenty minutes. Hillary Swank looked like a model for Trailer Trash Magazine. She had her Teena Brandon Oscar winning accent complete with quivering lip. UGH! Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear were not objectionable. Keanu Reeves as the bully was actually scary. He emoted a little in this film - that was something new for him. Perhaps a breakthrough! And Giovanni Ribisi as the troubled, mentally handicapped youth was over the top and required subtitles.

Critters: Butch, the dog.

Food: Chocolate icing and pie crusts. Psychics apparently don't need to eat.

Visual Art: Kid's art all over the house.

Blatant Product Placement: BellSouth telephone.

Soundtrack: I don't remember. I was laughing too loudly.

Opening Titles: Boring.

Theater Audience: Horrifyingly crowded. Filled with mostly men. The guys near me were discussing OTB (Off Track Betting) before the movie began. They were listing which facilities were less smoky than others. Their conversation was way more interesting than the movie. They were planning their trip to Del Mar for the opening of the pony season.

Sappy Factor: Who cares?

Squirm Scale: 5

Oscar Worthy: HA!

Nit Picking: I want my money back!

Big Screen or Rental: Neither. But if you want to be entertained by some Gothic thrillers (some Southern), you could rent Cape Fear (both versions), Sling Blade, A Simple Plan, and One False Move.

Length: Too long.