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Case Number 01903

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Desperate Hours

MGM // 1990 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 24th, 2002

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our review of The Pope of Greenwich Village / Desperate Hours (Blu-ray), published July 6th, 2015, is also available.

The Charge

Prepare yourself. The desperate hours have begun.

Opening Statement

Dear readers and friends, come along with me on a magical trip. Let's go somewhere startling, to a place and time where you won't believe your eyes! Let's go back to 1990, where the world seemed to be upside down and in complete turmoil. Why? Because in 1990, Mickey Rourke actually received top billing over Anthony Hopkins. It was a time of awe and bafflement…it was the time of Desperate Hours! Yes, try and fathom it—Rourke was actually more popular than Anthony "Hannibal" Hopkins! I have witnessed many strange sights in my time, but nothing as bizarre as this! Okay, enough of the wonderment…Desperate Hours also stars Kelly Lynch (Charlie's Angels), Mimi Rogers (AKA ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise), and David Morse (Hearts In Atlantis, The Green Mile) with direction by Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter). Desperate Hours races against the clock on DVD care of MGM Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

Meet Mr. Bosworth (Rourke). Bosworth is not a nice guy. He's just escaped from prison, killed a man, and taken an innocent suburban family hostage. Michael won't be winning any humanitarian awards in his near future.

When convicted psychopath Michael Bosworth escapes from jail (with some help from his sexy lawyer-turned-accomplice played by Lynch), he takes refuge in a quiet suburb house owned by the Cornell family. Nora (Rogers) and Tim (Hopkins) Cornell are in the process of a messy separation due to Tim's unwillingness to be trustworthy. They have two children, May (Shawnee Smith, The Blob) and Zack (Danny Gerard), and seem to be living the ideal monetary existence. This is all about to change when Bosworth and his two partners (Morse and Elias Koteas) force their way into the house and use it was a hideout from the police. What Bosworth didn't count on was a fierce family that's ready to fight for their very lives. As the capturers and captives wait, the law starts to close in on them lead by the southern talkin', hard walkin' Lt. Chandler (Lindsey Crouse, Imposter). With time running out (and isn't it always in the movies?) and lives at stake (and aren't they always in the movies?), the Cornell family and Bosworth's gang will make a final stand that will either end in triumph…or tragedy.

The Evidence

By the time the first half of Desperate Hours rolled around I was easily able to classify what genre it belonged in: guilty pleasures. I flat out liked this movie. It's not because it's a great movie, or even a good one—it's because I was entertained, and sometimes that's all I'm looking for. I mean let's be honest; how high do your hopes go when you're about to watch a movie starring the guy who carried Wild Orchid and 9 1/2 Weeks onto über-cheese status. Mickey Rourke is to movies what…uh…actually, I can't think of an analogy. Mickey Rourke is just a super cinematic freak of nature.

Desperate Hours requires little to no thinking on the part of the viewer. Even in the first 20 minutes it's easy to see where the plot will be headed (bad guys will get their just desserts from the good guys). The plot is more than simplistic—while this movie is based on an acclaimed stage production, the script feels dumbed down and very, very Hollywood-esque. Characters often go to great lengths to do and say things that normal, everyday individuals would try to avoid. Example: Anthony Hopkins' character fights back against his capturers and inevitably gets stabbed in the shoulder. Then he fights back again and is, not surprisingly, thwarted. And soon after that he makes yet another attempt at rebellion. And so on, and so on. Hopkins' character seems to have the cranial capacity of a guppy. You put a guy with a gun in my face and I'll fold up like an origami project on overdrive.

The actors in this movie all appear to be trying their hardest to do something—anything—with the material at hand. While Hopkins' motivations may seem idiotic, as usual he stills pulls of an above average performance. Mimi Rogers has a grand total of two expressions: upset and really, really upset. Certainly the movie gets the family relationships right; the children in the movie seem about as intelligent as their father. The young boy tries to escape over and over again. The teenage daughter scowls and verbally attacks Rourke and his gang. I'm sorry, did these people forget that there are really mean guys in front of them with very dangerous weapons? Apparently so. Kelly Lynch does a great job of making sure that her legs go all the way up. And then there's Lindsey Crouse, who seems to be inhabiting some other movie. Crouse plays a southern (?) law enforcer who speaks in jaded witticisms with one of the phoniest accents this side of the Alamo. When one character tells her that if they mess up they'll "have our ugly asses in court tomorrow," Crouse responds with "No, only one ass is involved. Mine. And what's ugly about it?" Is it just me or can you hear the collective groan as well? As for Mickey Rourke…well, what can I say? Rourke's the only actor who in each consecutive role appears to have just rolled out of bed with a hangover after a night of raunchy sex by way of two Mexican hookers and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

It may sound like I'm saying Desperate Hours is a dud, but I'm not—this is a movie that entertains from the first to last frame. And hey, it could always be worse; Desperate Hours could have starred Andrew Stevens.

Desperate Hours is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. MGM has done a fine job with this print, making sure that the colors and black levels appear solid and well-rendered. While the image sometimes sports a few instances of grain and edge enhancement, overall this is a pleasant looking transfer and a nice offering from MGM.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround in both English and French. I can't say that this soundtrack was very impressive—with little to no directional effects and a flat fidelity level, this mix won't blow away any part of your home theater system. However, the dialogue, effects, and music are all free of excessive distortion or hiss, so smile a little brighter. Also included on this disc are subtitles in French, Spanish, and English.

On par with multitudes of other MGM releases, Desperate Hours' only extra feature is a single theatrical trailer for the film.

Closing Statement

For years now, I've been making the observation that movies would sound a whole lot better if you put the phrase "That Wacky" in front of the title. Examples: "That Wacky Matrix." "That Wacky Shawshank Redemption." "That Wacky Armageddon." And of course, "That Wacky Desperate Hours" (though in this case we can make a slight adjustment to "Those Wacky Desperate Hours"). Anyhow, I am tangenting. Desperate Hours is a good bad movie.

The Verdict

Unlike Michael Bosworth, Desperate Hours is acquitted on all charges! Case dismissed!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 80
Extras: 25
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 77

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Original Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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