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Arts & Culture/ Reel Dealz
Date Posted:3/15/04

by:Edwardo Jackson

MOVIE BIASES: L-O-V-E Ashley Judd! But looks like another dopey, Paramount, woman in peril thrill-less "thriller."
MAJOR PLAYERS: Ashley Judd (High Crimes), Samuel L. Jackson (SWAT), Andy Garcia (Ocean's 11), and director Philip Kaufman (Quills)

Like most men, I have several versions of the perfect woman. Of course, that is an oxymoron since nobody is perfect, but one version would be an Ashley Judd with the mind of an Angela Davis - tall, hopelessly beautiful, speaks four languages but with the mind of a black revolutionary. Since THAT ain't happenin', I'm stuck watching her waste her talents in more sad sack fodder for what's becoming its own section in the video store, the Ashley Judd Woman In Peril While Getting Helped by an Older Mentor aisle.

Jessica Shepard (Judd) has just crashed the notorious boys club of San Francisco PD Inspectors with her latest promotion, earning her the enmity of her new, chauvinistic coworkers. Having the police chief John Mills (Jackson, mailing in another Mystical Negro/Older Mentor role sans his typical high-pitched fire) as a surrogate dad doesn't hurt, who raised her after her father, Mills' partner, died when she was a kid. While in police-mandated therapy for anger management, Shepard's first case involves a serial killer who keeps bumping off her numerous one night stands. Considering how she frequently blacks out after swigging cabernet every night, is she the killer? And if not, who is?

Who freakin' cares?!? "Twisted" is the latest dopey, medium budgeted, woman-in-jeopardy self-proclaimed "thriller" that Hollywood's most risk averse studio, Paramount, has tried to shove down our throats. It's no more innovative or original than any other reckless-cop-with-unconventional-means movie that's ever been made. The only interesting pieces in this project are its curiously star-studded assemblage, unnecessarily aimed for R rating, and female protagonist more sexually active than Colin Farrell on Cialis.

Maybe everyone wanted to work with the Oscar-nominated director of "Quills," Philip Kaufman. Maybe it was the money; budgeted at $50 mil, there was plenty to go around. You would think none went into the script, seeing how just about every cop movie cliché is crammed in there, but credited writer Sarah Thorp got a MILLION dollars for it. And speaking of said/sad script, Thorp and company unnecessarily go into R rating territory. As a Hollywood screenwriter, you get one "F" word per PG-13 movie; after that, you're easily into R territory. Well, they knocked that out of the box in the first two minutes. And for what? To show how tough cops talk or how tough Shepard is? Please. The bodies of the victims aren't excessively gruesome either. Not that I want this movie to do well because it's crap, but if tightwad Paramount really wanted to make money, they should have tapped into the cinematic sweet spot these days known as the PG-13 rating. As a guy who likes to cuss, I think this movie is gratuitously profane and should've gone for the softer rating.

But let's get to my REEL DEAL Crush playing the protagonist, the lovely and talented Ashley Judd. I am just going to assume that a trained actress who's fluent in French and was Phi Beta Kappa did this for the money because Judd's Jessica Shepard is horrible, both in character and, at times, in performance. Shepard, despite her checkered, homicidal family past and love 'em and leave 'em attitude, is as tough as a cirrus cloud. One look at her soft green eyes, bright smile, and gloriously high cheekbones and you realize it's Ashley Judd playing…Ashley Judd. Stuffing her mouth with four letter words, letting her kick bad guys in the face, and making her a functional alcoholic doesn't make Shepard any tougher. Shepard's obviously overcompensating - and stupid. Hmm, if I keep blacking out when I drink after work, think I should put down the dang Cab Sauv already? When you see smart women (Judd) make insane decisions (insanity IS doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, or so I'm told) that are integral to plot development, that's when I pull the mental ripcord and bail on a movie. Her pimpin' like Bishop Don Magic Juan didn't bother or shock me in the least. C'mon, I live in LA; Jessica Shepards, in the form of narcissistic, wholly self-involved, careerist actresses, are a dime a dozen.

Despite stunning, postcard quality cinematography of the beautiful city of San Francisco, "Twisted," with its annoying, preposterous ending is not a thriller, it's just a cheap thrill. And I'm talking about Ashley Judd here. But even for a gaudy paycheck, my beloved has GOT to start choosing roles worthy of her latent talent ("A Time to Kill," anyone?) or at least her formidable good looks. Otherwise, more "Twisteds" will pile up in her video store section. Unwatched.

If you can't sneak in, don't go in.

Like what you read? Agree/disagree with The Reel Deal? Think he's talkin' out his...HUSH YO' MOUF! (I'm only talkin' about The Reel Deal!) Email him at ReelReviewz@aol.com!

Edwardo Jackson is the author of the novels EVER AFTER and NEVA HAFTA, (Villard/Random House), a writer for UrbanFilmPremiere.com, and an LA-based screenwriter. Visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com

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