cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

Click for full sized poster


Starring Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett, Julia Stiles and Martin Sheen
Screenplay by Brad Kayaa
Based on Shakespeare's Othello
Directed by Tim Blake Nelson

IN SHORT: Feh. [Rated R for violence, a scene of strong sexuality, language and drug use. 91 minutes]

There are a lot of things you can do to a play by William Shakespeare. You can change the time period and/or location of the story. You can mess with the language or add music or chop the plot up into little pieces and shuffle them randomly before reassembly. You could probably whack it senseless with a mallet, tie it in a sack with a litter full of unwanted kittens and dump it in the river and nine times out of ten the story would still find a way to survive.

Then there is director Tim Blake Nelson's O, in which Brad Kayaa's screenplay changes the time, location, character background and language of "Othello" -- Venice Italy is now Charleston South Carolina USA. The battlefield becomes a prep school basketball tournament and the combatants the players and their girlfriends, though the green eyed monster called jealousy still rears its ugly head as motive. In black and white, the changes read with some plausibility. How does O stand as its own entity? It doesn't.

The Palmetto Grove Hawks have just capped one heck of a basketball season. Led by USA All-Star Odin James (Mekhi Phifer), the Hawks have clinched home field advantage for the state playoffs all the way up the line to the semifinal, which Coach Duke Goulding (Martin Sheen) fully expects his team to win. The reason for his team's superiority is obvious, and it is the reason why Odin was recruited to lead the lily-white team from the lily-white school. The Coach and the Dean (John Heard) know why he is there. The students seem to be color blind to that reasoning and, if they have any resentment about their one and only African-American classmate, they keep it to themselves. The only person who even brings any of that stuff to the fore is Odin himself, in private conversations with his secret girlfriend of four months, Desi (Julia Stiles). The kidlets in the couple's inner circle know but, for the most part, everybody has been discreet.

Odin is the star of, leader of, and newly named MVP of the team. That he has achieved this high status in his sophomore year, not to mention the fact that the Coach has told the student body that he loves Odin "like a son" pisses off senior utility player Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett, click for StarTalk), the biological "son of". Add to that the fact that Odin shares his MVP with Hugo's best bud Mike (Andrew Keegan) just adds fuel to the fires of Hugo's jealousy. To help take the wind out of Odin's sails he manipulates pudgy rich kid Roger (Elden Henson) into making false accusations about the star and his lady. Roger agrees to the machinations because he's got the hots for Desi and thinks with Odin out of the way he's got a chance.

It's like "in hell," but having money doesn't always mean you've got brains. As for those best laid plans of Mister Hugo, well, you probably know how that phrase goes. Which is all you need to know.

And, if the acting wasn't so wooden; if the dialog wasn't, at times, unbelievable; if the scenes of basketball play had carried some excitement; if the final scenes, dialog-less but narrated by some operatic nonsense, hadn't been so pretentious; if the overall construction of the film hadn't made 90 minutes of screentime (including credits) feel like twice that much, O might have been enjoyable to a minimal extent. If only on videotape. But it wasn't.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to O, he would have paid . . .


This movie sat on the shelf for a year, with stories flying that the shootings at Columbine hit too close to the bone for Miramax (the original funding studio). It may be that the coincidence made the suits uncomfortable. It is more likely that they took one look at this awful flick and went looking for an excuse not to release it. Director Nelson had a good lawyer, so it's headed for the big screen. It'll be gone in a week.

Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.