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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 Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Perhaps screenwriter Larry Cohen conceived this comedic suspense story as a wireless companion piece to "Phone Booth," but something went wrong from conception to execution in the hands of novice scripter Chris Morgan and director David R. Ellis ("Final Destination 2").

There's this high school science teacher, Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), who's kidnapped from her suburban home and held hostage in a musty attic as thugs search for something her husband has. Unable to escape, she resourcefully patches together a smashed rotary-dial phone and dials a random number. It's the cellphone of Ryan (Chris Evans), a laid-back California surf dude who's goofing off with his pal at the Santa Monica pier. At first he doesn't believe Jessica's damsel-in-distress diatribe, but after he hears her being roughed up by her captor (Jason Statham), he tries not to lose her signal en route to a police station and then takes off to save both Jessica and her 11 year-old son who's been stashed away in a nearby garage. And when a soon-to-be-retired veteran Desk Sgt. (William H. Macy) investigates her story, he too becomes a hero.

The silly, gimmick-y script is implausible from the get-go. I mean, what science teacher drives a brand-new Porsche, has a housekeeper and doesn't bother to go to work on a school day?

That Ellis' previous experience was as a stunt choreographer is evident. When in doubt, he throws in another car chase or shoot-out. As for Basinger's performance, it seems, literally, to have been phoned-in. On the other hand, the contemporary "cellular" humor hits the mark, eliciting more laughs than you'd expect, and Macy's always worth watching. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Cellular" is an inept, flimsy 5. This lifeline has a tenuous connection.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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