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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Cellular

Starring: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans
Director: David Ellis
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: September 2004
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Drama

*Also starring: Eric Christian Olsen, Jessica Biel, Richard Burgi, Valerie Cruz, Eddie Driscoll, Eric Etebari, Adam Taylor Gordon, Rick Hoffman, Bryan Holly, William H. Macy, Jason Statham, Rob Nagle

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

A fun film, CELLULAR is a comedic thriller with good energy and good laughs. Its trailers are exemplary in that they do what the studio wants -- to sell the movie -- and what you want -- to give you a good sense of what the movie will be like without giving away all the jokes and too many of the plot twists. In short, if you liked the trailers, as I did, you'll undoubtedly like the movie too. And, if you found the trailers stupid or preposterous, then this isn't the picture for you.

Wasting little time before the action begins, the movie quickly cuts to a kidnapping incident, with Jessica Martin, a mild-mannered high school biology teacher, being kidnapped by a ruffian named Greer and his cohorts. In her second terrific performance this year, Kim Basinger (THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR) plays Jessica, a vulnerable but resourceful victim. Jason Statham, always excellent as a dangerous, explosive bad guy, plays Greer.

Greer needs something that Craig (Richard Burgi), Jessica's husband, has. Jessica finds this very hard to believe, arguing that they must have the wrong family since Craig is "just" a real estate agent. Her ransom will be this unknown item Greer thinks Craig possesses.

As Jessica is locked in an attic, she calls random numbers with loose wires on the phone that Greer thought his sledgehammer had completely demolished. She accidentally reaches Ryan (Chris Evans), whom she must convince to come to her rescue. The plot has shades of SPEED since Ryan has to race around town without ever losing her due to a low battery, a lost signal or a dropped phone. Building interiors, tunnels and skimpy batteries all conspire to put the maintenance of their connection, and hence her life, in jeopardy.

The tension is good, but the laughs are even better. William H. Macy plays an average-Joe policeman named Mooney who steals scenes left and right as he eventually comes to the rescue. Ryan ends up smashing a series of cars and getting the comeuppance of an especially snotty lawyer whose cell phone tries to play party line with Ryan's phone. One of the funniest jokes has Ryan finding a way to get proper attention from extra perky but super rigid sales associates at a cell phone store. He needs help immediately in securing a cell phone charger, but they are hell bent on sending him to the end of the line with all of the false sweetness they can muster. Ryan finds that a fired pistol can cut right through the saccharine and the red tape so that he will immediately be sent to the front of the queue and get all the service he requires.

The ending needs some crisping up, and the plot isn't one that holds up to much scrutiny. But this is a fun romp that mainly sizzles. When CELLULAR comes calling at your theater, you'll want to answer.

CELLULAR runs 1:34. It is rated PG-13 for "violence, terror situations, language and some sexual references" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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