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Case Number 05442

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Hear No Evil

Fox // 1993 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 22nd, 2004

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum wishes he didn't see this evil.

The Charge

What you can't hear could kill you.

Opening Statement

It seemed like a good idea. You take an Oscar-winning deaf actress, cast her in a "reimagining" of Wait Until Dark, and play on her deafness rather than a lack of sight. Marlee Matlin is a great talent, and she's absolutely stunning to look at. She deserves better than this misguided thriller that fails to thrill, or even come up with much originality. Hear No Evil seems to have been scripted and directed by the same monkey that posed for the "No Evil" statue from whence the title originates. You'll feel like scraping off your shoes and taking a shower after this one! Hang on—I'm about to speak some evil about this inane throwaway of a movie.

Facts of the Case

Marlee Matlin (1987 Academy Award Winner for Children of a Lesser God) plays Jillian, a personal trainer living in Portland who gets slipped "the rarest coin in the world" by one of her clients. He's a reporter (Ted McGinley, so funny on Scrubs) who is hot on the trail of a corrupt police lieutenant played by Martin Sheen (the current President of the United States—on The West Wing). Problem is, the reporter dies before getting the coin out from where he hid it (in her pager), and now Jillian is being hunted down by dirty cops who want the coin and assume she knows she has it. Enter D.B. Sweeney (Spawn, After Sex), the best friend of the reporter, to help Jillian avoid the cops and search for the one thing that could save her…the rarest coin in the world, which is jammed in her 1993 mega-huge pager.

The Evidence

Let's play the blame game! Who mucked this one up?

When I checked out director Robert Greenwald on IMDb, it seemed he had a healthy resume as producer, being the guy behind over forty movies. Then I saw it. He directed Xanadu, so his specialty must be "killing careers and mangling successful formulas into unrecognizable piles of gooey mess." To his credit he did produce and direct a couple of documentaries I hear are great (Outfoxed and Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War), but we're talking admitted fiction right now. So culprit number one in this case is the inept direction of Robert Greenwald. He misuses his entire cast, and severely mishandles the climax of the movie. Wait Until Dark was effective as hell because it plunged everyone (audience included) into pitch-blackness for much of its stunning climax. Having a totally silent climax here would have been logical and oh-so-creepy. But no. We get a half-assed attempt to bombard us with sound when Ms. Matlin cranks up stereos and sets off alarms so her pursuer can not hear. Could have been effective, too; but he forgets about it in time for the pager to go off and reveal her location. By magic, the entire cacophony that Marlee created disappears with no real explanation why, except to enable someone to locate her. Just one drop of ineptitude in an ocean of it.

The script is penned by some guy who is credited with one television movie and Surf II, and a chick who has worked exclusively in television. That explains a lot. It reeks of "TV movie," though I doubt it would have been any more successful had it originated on the small screen. The script may have worked as a one-hour episode of any number of popular crime dramas with Marlee Matlin as a guest star, but unfortunately it has nothing that merits its being stretched out to feature length. Honestly, a sitcom could have handled this plot nicely in less than thirty minutes. Would have made a great episode of That '70s Show, maybe.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Marlee Matlin is talented and gorgeous, and she does her best. The whole cast does, except for maybe Martin Sheen, who knows he's in a dog and runs with it while chewing scenery. None of the actors are to blame here, and the romance with D.B. Sweeney almost works. I kept wishing they would forget about the hackneyed plot and just let them have love scenes—like where Marlee teaches him dirty words in sign language. I did pick up some useful new words to entertain my hearing-impaired friends, who would hate this movie as well.

It's filmed in Portland, which is a beautiful city that never looks bad on film. I liked looking at the scenery, and I was planning a trip almost the entire time. Portland deserves to become a major film hub, because it's an American city like no other. I will sit through almost anything just to see it on celluloid.

The transfer is passable. A little grain here and there, but overall it looks good. You can pick widescreen or fullscreen. Thankfully, no extras! The movie needs little explanation or elaboration. The trailer is spoiler-ridden, but it's a good two minute alternative to sitting through the whole thing…

Closing Statement

It's crap. Marlee Matlin and Portland make it watchable, but it's pretty predictable, and it's a poor copy of Wait Until Dark. Skip it unless you just dig someone in it, but think twice before cranking it up.

The Verdict

Death penalty for all involved but the actors.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 80
Extras: 0
Acting: 75
Story: 0
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Bad
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb








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