Gun Shy - B
Viewed February 5, 1999 at 42nd St. E-Walk

Already locking up the title as 2000's most underrated film is Eric Blakeley's oddball comedy-drama unfortunately being dumped by Disney into theaters with little fanfare, blood in the water for lazy "critics" to engage in literary thuggery. There's also its timing, with a plotline and hook that superficially resembles Grosse Pointe Blank and "The Sopranos" (which I haven't seen).

Gun Shy's boldest stroke is its titanic streak of scatological humor. But for once, this doesn't translate to just cheap lowbrow laughs. (Though there are a few good ones.) Gun Shy's chief thematic concern is the male midlife crisis and the roles we find ourselves playing in life; Liam Neeson's undercover agent Charlie is tiring of his job. Now longer seeing his job as masculine wish-fullfillment of James Bond fantasies, he now just wants a house with an ocean view. He finds a kindred soul in Fluvio(Oliver Platt, once again stealing every scene he's in), a brutish thug for his don father-in-law who hates his job despite being very good at it. Both suffer from physical ailments; Fluvio is having trouble pissing, and Charlie's bowels have a mind of their own. Their fears and self-doubt have been internalized and literalized, what's midlife crisis but the fear of age? And there's nothing more symptomatic of old age but the slow loss of control over our most basic functions. Similarly, Charlie's fellow patients in group therapy (all male white collar types) fear a loss of control in the corporate boardroom.

It's far from perfect; like many first-time directors, Blakeley has more ideas than he knows what to do with, and the last reel is unfortunately devoted to resolving the film's feverishly complex plot -- one that's missing a few important expository pieces. But ignore the mainstream critics and give the film a shot (at least on video) before kicking it.

Also viewed: Scream 3 [C+]: Little to say about this, it's a competent but mechanical conclusion to the postmodern slasher trilogy. With the exception of one scene, Craven doesn't make good use of his setting (the set of Stab 3), and there's a heavy air of injokiness that will thwart all but those who've seen the previous two multiple times.