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palmetto poster


Starring Woody Harrelson, Elisabeth Shue, Gina Gershon
Screenplay by E. Max Frye
based on the novel "Just Another Sucker" by James Hadley Chase
Directed by Volker Schlondorff
Website: www.castle-rock.com

IN SHORT:  yech.

Cranky's heard it said that things move more slowly down South -- being a manic New Yorker, everything moves more slowly outside of NYC -- but there's never been nothing like Palmetto, Florida. Many movies have struggled mightily to attain the heights of confusion and mediocrity that the film bearing the title of this town (not to be confused with the very real life Palmetto, FL) does.

It is tired. It is tiring and tiresome. It is a terrible turd of a movie and should be avoided with the same deliberateness that you use avoiding dog droppings. It is flat out wretched.

It does feature the lovely Elisabeth Shue in a variety of very tight dresses; a sure sign that spring is in the air. What tries to be a sexy, mysterious, noir-ish story of a man lured into a sure-fire kidnapping screen takes so much time to get off the ground that you won't care by the time it does. Then the story shifts gears and everything you've seen turns out to be a lie.

But you still won't care.

The sitch: 2 years back newspaperman Harry Barber (Woody Harrelson) stumbled across a major political payola deal in the tiny town of Palmetto. When he blew the whistle, he wound up in jail framed for the crime. Go figure. Set free after the frame was uncovered, Harry moves back in with his girlfriend (Gina Gershon) who, apparently, has remained chaste pending his return. Failing to find work, a hot blonde (Shue) offers Harry 50 grand to help with the faked kidnapping of her stepdaughter and jumps his bones in the process. When the deal goes down, Harry is hired by the local police to handle the inevitable deluge of press. Irony can only go so far before people start turning up dead.

This being Florida, Harrelson sweats. Buckets of the stuff. Neither Shue nor Gershon do. The "erotic" scenes (pick your couple) aren't. The requisite plot twist will have you spending more thinking time trying to figure out how the first half of the flick could make sense given what you discover in the second half. Cranky still hasn't quite figured it out and his brain is hurting pretty bad.

Palmetto is not sexy. It is not thrilling. It is not a compelling, filled with twists and turns mystery about to unfold. It is about two hours longer than it should be, and it only runs about two hours. Audience reaction was so incredibly negative, with most comments running along the lines of "what was I thinking when I thought I'd like this?" Feh.

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


Palmetto is a waste of time, though it's not wretched enough to rate the coveted zero. It's just plain boring.

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