Double Jeopardy

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Double Jeopardy
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd, Annabeth Gish, 
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: 1999
Kiddie Movie: Violence, blood, and sex. I don’t think so.
Date Movie: Sure.
Gratuitous Sex: Ashely gets naked and romps in the sack before waking up in blood.
Gratuitous Violence: Blood and some shooting.
Action: There’s supposed to be some, but it’s pretty predictable.
Laughs: Quite a few lines.
Memorable Scene: Libby in jail.
Memorable Quote: Too many to write down.
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

“Double Jeopardy,” whether planned or not, contains as many movie clichés as I’ve seen all summer. There is the proverbial being covered in blood and holding the possible murder weapon as the cops, or in this case the Coast Guard, show up. There is the being trapped in a mausoleum with the door locked and then realizing, after everyone in the audience already figured out, that there is a window to break your way out of. There is the way-predictable ending of mom ending up with her son, and yea, her son recognizing her voice like the one inmate said he would. There is the walking chase scene through the packed streets of New Orleans, with our heroin carrying a red umbrella, and she loses the cops for just a second, and then low and behold they go after the wrong lady who is also carrying a red umbrella. There is the bachelor auction where the wife, who the husband thinks is still in prison, bids on him. And there is the best friend sleeping with the husband who is supposed to be dead. There are more clichés, oh, there are more, but I suppose I’ve given away plenty already. But you know what? All of these things are so telegraphed that they aren’t really a surprise, and even though you know these things are going to happen, well, “Double Jeopardy” was still a pretty entertaining movie.

Ashley Judd is Libby, our heroin, who gets sent to prison for murdering her husband. She sends her son off with her friend, Angie (Annabeth Gish), and proceeds to do her time in prison. Well, low and behold, one day she figures out that Angie has run off to San Francisco with, surprise, surprise, her “dead” husband. One of the inmates explains to her that when she gets out of prison she can feel free to find her “husband” and shoot him in the head, in the middle of Times Square even, and she can’t be tried for his murder due to the double jeopardy clause in the US Constitution. True, but probably not, this leaves Libby open for her drive to find her husband, but all she ends up really wanting is to get her son back.

She ends up getting out of prison and finds her parole officer Travis (Tommy Lee Jones), who really just wants her to be good. Well, she’s not, in fact doing a little breaking and entering, resisting arrest, breaking parole, and sending Travis on a cross-country chase while she tracks down her “husband” and her son. Travis is getting torn because he is starting to believe her story that her husband isn’t dead, but he knows he still has a job to do. In keeping with Hollywood happiness, and I’ll spoil it for you, Libby ends up getting her son and is cleared of all charges. Yippee!! And that’s enough plot summary.

“Alright, Dude, if the movie was so predictable and the plot pretty stupid, how come 4 ½ stars?” Well, internet reader, I’ll tell you.

First off there were a lot of scenes that brought some good laughs. The time Libby spent in jail was enjoyable on the screen. The inmates that befriend her are full of funny advice and the advice just before the parole hearing was humorous. Secondly there is a scene where this dude in the library starts helping Libby do some internet searching while trying to pick her up. She likes his assistance buts needs nothing of his advances. What better way to get rid of an annoying dude than to explain that you’ve been in jail for the last six years for killing your husband. And not finally, but also, there are plenty of funny exchanges from both Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd that, well, just made me laugh. So even though a supposed action/thriller, I found myself laughing more than in suspense, but enjoying it nonetheless.

“Alright, Dude, the movie made you laugh, and that sounds like maybe a 3 ½ star movie. Where’d the other star come from?”

Well, you’re right on that one, in terms of a movie it was about 3 ½ stars, but in being the male that I am, the pleasure of seeing Ashley Judd in assorted tight outfits, acting well, and also getting naked, hmm, call me a pig, but that earns another star. Yea, I know it’s petty and maybe even blows credibility out of a review rating, but it made “Double Jeopardy” just a little bit better for me.

Could this movie have been a great movie even without Ashley getting naked? Not in its present form, but maybe with a different twist to the story. I’m thinking what might have been a better film would have been something like this: The beginning is the same, but when Libby gets out of jail they would have her find her husband in Times Square, lets say on New Year’s Eve, and she blows his brains out. Let’s shift the movie from an action/suspense to a drama by having a court battle challenging this supposed hole in the “Double Jeopardy” clause. I’m pretty sure she’d end up back in jail, but at least there wouldn’t have been so many opportunities for the movie clichés. Just my two cents.

Anyway, I stand behind my 4½ stars. I was entertained and the folks in the theater I was in seemed to come out entertained. Oh well!

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

A Prairie Home Companion

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

A Prairie Home Companion
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Woody Harrelson, L.Q. Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Picturehouse Films
Kiddie Movie: They won’t get the jokes and the teens might not like the music.
Date Movie: You’ve both got to appreciate radio variety shows.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of innuendo.
Gratuitous Violence: Nope.
Action: Nope.
Laughs: Lots of chuckles and some good laughs.
Memorable Scene: Nothing really stands out.
Memorable Quote: It goes something like: “I asked ‘What are you here for?’ ‘Liquor,’ she said, and lick her I did, and I don’t work there anymore.”
Directed By: Robert Altman
Produced By: Robert Altman, Wren Arthur, Joshua Astrachan, Tony Judge, David Levy

I vaguely recollect, as a youngster, going to see a sort of vaudeville/variety show at our local theater, and enjoying it. The music was campy, the characters had, well, character, and it just seemed like a fun time all around. Seeing “A Prairie Home Companion” sort of brought me back to that time, and I had a fun time all around for this movie, except for two old ladies in the audience, but I’ll save that for my blog. Anyway, let’s get to the movie…

I’m not sure of all of the particulars of this movie, nor am I one for much investigative work, but supposedly the movie reflects an actual radio variety show set in the same Fitzgerald Theater in Minnesota. For our movie the radio station has been sold to some dude from Texas, and this will be the last show for “A Prairie Home Companion.” All of the characters, and there is a huge cast of characters, seem to have their own way of dealing with the demise of the only life they’ve know for the last thirty-some years, and we get to see it all, complete with lots of variety-show type music and some mysticism in the fact that this will be the final episode of the show, as well as the final night for some of the characters, thanks to the arrival of Dangerous Woman (Virginia Madsen). The show goes on, the show ends, and life goes on, for most of them.

I know that’s sort of a short synopsis, but the movie doesn’t really seem to have a set “story,” but rather just tries to show the tales of everyone involved in this last performance, and it’s those performances that hold the movie together. First we are introduced to Guy Noir (Kevin Kline). He’s a private investigator who is relegated to security for the show due to the lack of any real work for a private investigator in a Minnesota town. He sets up the story, is quirky thinking Dangerous Woman has a thing for him, and shows that he really isn’t a good private investigator when a cast member dies. Garrison Keillor is G.K. He’s sort of the ringleader for the show, giving the lead-ins for the various acts, voicing the commercials, and even singing along with the various characters at times. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin play Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, singing sisters for the show, who spend the night reflecting on how their lives have turned out. The cornballs of the show are Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as Dusty and Lefty. They are supposed to be a couple of cowboys fresh off the range, turning songs into corny jokes and being risqué. And in a role that shows if she could get out of the dorky film roles she has been stuck in, Lindsay Lohan did a fantastic job as Lola, the daughter of Yolanda, fascinated with suicide and wondering about her own future.

All of our characters intertwine, as we would expect, during the backstage scenes, and it is here where the stories take place. No one can understand why G.K. won’t announce to the audience that this is their last show nor the death of one of the cast, to which G.K. retorts that every show is the last show, and that he doesn’t do eulogies. Yolanda hopes that there might be time at the end for Lola to get on stage, and low and behold there is, and as the movie comes to an end, Dangerous Woman is back, but Guy wonders who she is there for. We don’t find out.

Me, I liked this movie a lot, but you might not, and that’s okay, because this is definitely not a movie for everyone. Pretty much if you hate bluegrass-ish or vaudeville style music, well, you will hate this movie because there is a lot of it present in the movie. And if you want a totally cohesive story, well, you won’t get that from “A Prairie Home Companion” either. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a variety-style show, enjoy a lot of sexual innuendos jokes, and can get through the mysticism part of Dangerous Woman, you will most likely enjoy this movie a lot.

The movie itself was great for me, but what also blew me away was Robert Altman’s, and I guess it was his call, use of mirrors during many of the behind-the-scenes scenes. It gave the movie much different affect, and limited, I suppose, the need to shoot scenes multiple times from multiple angles, allowing all of the characters to feed off of each other for the entire scene with the mirrors enabling their faces to remain in the scene. Okay, that was way to hard to explain, so I’ll just wrap this review by giving “A Prairie Home Companion” 4 ½ stars out of 5. But please, take my warning about the music and jokes appropriately, because I don’t see many middle-of-the-road people for this film. You will either like it or hate it. I liked it.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!