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Out of Sight

Starring George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Dennis Farina and Albert Brooks
Screenplay by Scott Frank
Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Website: www.outofsight.com

IN SHORT:  Amusing, but not Clooney's breakthrough.

The GenX'ers I talked to on the way out of Out of Sight put it simply. They walked in expecting a cheesy action flick, as seen in the television commercials. They walked out having enjoyed a cute, amusing but slightly long movie. Cranky hadn't seen the TV spots but his agreement is reflected in the one liner above.

Novelist Elmore Leonard has had the damndest time getting decent adaptations of his work on the big screen. Scott Frank, who penned this one had the biggest success with Get Shorty, but his work is defeated by director Steven Soderberg's insistence on adding artsy-fartsy visual affectations like still frames. They begin to no purpose in the title sequence and find a reason to exist in dissolves into newspaper photo props. Judiciousness would be appreciated, but these suckers keep slamming the screen and it gets real annoying. Other affections may have been perfect for sex, lies and videotape. They get tired fast in Out of Sight.

Star George Clooney continues his stumble towards superstardom -- it really is just a matter of time -- as he seeks out the material that will shoot him to the tippy-top of the A-list. His inherent personal magnetism, of which he's got tons, is not enough to take a blah character and make you connect emotionally. You'll have to chalk up the screen relationship that develops with co-star Jennifer Lopez to faith, because it isn't developed enough in Frank's script or by the actors in their performances. The fun comes from watching the support staff.

Jack Foley (Clooney) is a bank robber who exudes oodles of charm. He's never used a gun in the 200 plus heists he's been involved in, preferring to use his dazzling smile and talent for verbal misdirection. Jack's spent most of the two decades since he entered the biz at 18 in jail. He's a free man when we first encounter him, but there's a bank across the way. The robbery goes off sans note. It's a clever and amusing bit but Jack ends up back in the slammer, as always. One jailbreak later, he's face to shotgun barrel with U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco (Lopez). The jokes on Sisco, 'cuz Jack's buddy, Buddy (Ving Rhames) is behind her. The attraction between the pair develops quickly; take it on faith, as Jack and Karen make small talk while locked in a car's trunk.

The supporting cast of cons includes a wack job nicknamed Snoopy (Don Cheadle) and his incredibly dumb, fat white boy sidekick named White Boy (Keith Loneker); a white collared, bald headed swindler Richard Ripley (Albert Brooks) and a dopester named Glenn (Steve Zahn). Dennis Farina plays Karen's father, constantly warning against her penchant for married men (in this case a name star who looked great in rubber).

Clooney and Lopez get down, in an artsy and very sexy sequence. This sets up an emotional slant to the almost inevitable conclusion during a burglary in the freed Ripley's mansion. Unfortunately, looks don't count for much when you can pop a tape and a brew. Rhames, Cheadle and Zahn take what is scripted and run for the gold. Clooney and Lopez spark only on direction.

There's one more name star cameo saved for the very end of the flick. Said star got major audience applause, but his was a purposeless role and could have been filled by almost any actor. The GenX'ers all suggested that a different rubber suit wearer would have been perfect.

That's about as clever a hint as I can give. It's not original, though. Cranky was too dumb to make the connection. I must be getting old.

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


$5 plus a bonus for the star cameos.

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