City Hall (Harold Becker)

Rating: **1/2 (out of ****)

City Hall is so thoroughly mediocre, so quintessentially run-of-the-mill, that I'm having difficulty recalling details a mere 24 hours later; the detail I remember most vividly is John Cusack's struggle to sound like James Carville. There's nothing terribly wrong with this tale of graft and corruption in New York City, but there's nothing very interesting about it, either; it's reasonably entertaining while you're watching it, but nothing more. Al Pacino, as Da Mayor, does more or less the same thing he's done in every picture he's made since he re-emerged in Sea of Love, alternately barking and cajoling, and I'm beginning to find it tiresome. Cusack is fine (the accent excepted), and though Bridget Fonda and Martin Landau are wasted in negligible roles, a host of fine character actors, most of whose names I don't know, make the edges of this film considerably more compelling than its center. New Yorkers will be amused by the Times editorial seen at one point, which includes a photograph.