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Movie Review: Panic

Story: Did any of you go into your family's business because you felt that you had no choice? Imagine if the family business was murder for hire. I was very impressed with this debut film by writer/director Henry Bromell (TV's Homicide and Northern Exposure). The lead character, Alex, now in his 40's, wants out of the family business. Every day is joyless for him other than the time he spends with his young son. He decides to go to see a therapist. No - it is NOT like The Sopranos or any of the other mobster - sees - shrink films of late. This film has an abundance of great dialogue and I cared about all of the characters. It is heartwarming, funny and sad. It is about fathers and sons, mid-life crisis', family, secrets and lies. It was thoroughly original and I loved it.

Acting: I would see Donald Sutherland in anything. I miss him. He was chilling as the father. William H. Macy was right on target as the anxiety ridden, joyless Alex. Tracey Ullman is always terrific. Neve Campbell was perfect as the 23 year old who catches Alex' eye. Barbara Bain as Alex' mother looked terrific and was perfect. The little boy, David Dorfman, was simply incredible (and I usually don't fall for little kid actors).

Critters: Due to the amazing number of e-mail's I have gotten about this category, I am changing the name from Pets to Critters.

One squirrel.

Food: Pancakes and syrup, chicken cacciatore, salad and lots of beer.

Visual Art: Some bad therapist waiting room art.

Blatant Product Placement: Mercedes Benz and a discussion about a Lexus and Japanese cars. I think Donald Sutherland does voice-overs for a car company.

Soundtrack: Perfect. I particularly liked Behind Closed Doors.

Opening Titles: Not of mention.

Theater Audience: 9 hitmen and me.

Quirky Meter: 3

Squirm Scale: 4

Oscar Worthy: This film was actually released on Cinemax last summer for a week. It was released recently by another film company. So it loses it's right to be considered for an Oscar because it was seen on TV first.

Nit Picking: I imagine it was filmed on a very small budget. Some of the interior scenes were very claustrophobic. Or maybe they were supposed to be that way.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental. You could rent several of the mobster-sees- shrink movies...Anaylze This, Gun Shy and of course, all of the Sopranos reruns.

Length: 90 minutes (longer than a therapy session)