Wednesday, February 20, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 97


'John Q' and 'Monster's Ball' full of drama, sex

Cougar News Staff

John Q pleases audiences with suspense and drama, but it has too much resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson's film The Negotiator to claim originality or imagination.

Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

Denzel Washington is John Quincy Archibald in the new suspense drama John Q, now in theaters.

Denzel Washington has always been a superstar in dramatic films that either inspire or depress. His latest endeavor does both. This multitalented actor plays a
character named John Quincy Archibald who faces the everyday trials and tribulations of lower-income America.

John Q's biggest problem is the discovery, like a flash of lightning, that his son has the weakest heart known to man. The boy's weak heart begins killing him in a matter
of hours, which is a rare occurrence since the hospital predicted that tragic fate would occur in a matter of months. Then again, the movie wouldn't be so dramatic if the
son had 30 days to live.

Making corporate America a big, bad monster is part of the plot of most stories, and this film is no exception. Even though hospitals are usually made available to the
sick and dying, the ugly face of reality beams through. When money runs thin, the desperation of a father overwhelms his best judgment, hence the comparison to The

A desperate good guy with a cause everyone can relate to locks himself in a building and takes several innocent people hostage until his demands are met. These
demands, however, reach beyond money or fame.

A big-name actor, Robert Duvall in this case, is the friendly cop talking the man down and ultimately forming an unlikely friendship.

Duvall's character is boring and reeks of the smell of washed-out actors trying desperately to salvage a career that obviously peaked years ago. Like Aerosmith, Duvall
should hang up his hat and accept that the peak he once reached will not be reached again.

Supporting roles are filled by other big names such as Ray Liotta, Anne Heche and James Woods. All three stars play bad guys well but never surprise the audience
with their formulaic acting: the ruthless police captain, the money-hungry hospital administrator and the surgeon who has forgotten how to help sick people.

A few scenes evoke a ton of suspense, but it all ends the same way: with the main character shining through and overcoming all impossible obstacles. Tears will be
shed and arms will be clawed because Washington's acting is excellent (especially in one scene involving a handgun).

Though the handgun scene is gut-wrenching, the film would have been 10 times more interesting if the worst-case scenario had happened. The soft, predictable route
the producers choose is unstimulating and too formulaic. Every twist and turn of John Q can be seen from a mile away.

John Q

Starring Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall

Rated PG-13

*** (out of five stars)

Heather L. Nicholson

Daily Cougar Staff

"A love story with a hint of conflict" best describes the romantic drama Monster's Ball, starring Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton.

In this heart-wrenching story, two people from different worlds and perspectives fall in love. Although this love is unexpected, the two of them wholeheartedly embrace it.
They experience conflict in the form of racism and indifference, yet their perseverance only helps to strengthen their bond.

The film is set in rural Georgia, where a woman named Leticia (Berry) is forced to raise her son without the help of his father, who is imprisoned.

Throughout the film, she struggles to make ends meet for herself and her son with the poor wages of her waitress job. In his breakthrough performance, Sean "Puffy"
Combs, playing the role of the imprisoned father, adds cohesion to the story.

With his uncanny artistic abilities, he introduces a theme to the film: capturing the essence of a person.

This is also established when Leticia is introduced to Hank (Thornton) who shares with her the experience of losing a son. As this common thread is tied, the two learn
there are real people behind the prejudiced masks.

Berry and Thornton deliver superb acting performances as they drive their audience to see their characters as people, not simply an interracial couple. Leticia
experiences pain with the loss of her son, a fear that unites all mothers regardless of skin color.

The passion of the couple is definitely evident in intense love scenes. The director makes this plainly obvious to us with the in-your-face gratuitous sex scenes.

These scenes appear to have much more to do with nudity than they do with depicting two people in love. The director may have been showing his viewers that he was
not afraid to cross boundaries, but this story seemed a bit more over-the-top than daring.

The movie presents the idea of a love story that knows no bounds, yet it has a hard time supporting it. The ending is unrealistic and may give a false sense of security for
women in Leticia's shoes.

The couple, as in most fairy tale settings, lives "happily ever after," without any basis for a stable future. The ending does not convince the audience, but rather forces it
to believe. The story is hopeful, but may be unnecessarily idealistic.

Monster's Ball

Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry

Rated R

** 1/2 (out of five stars)

Nkoyo J. Efiong

Daily Cougar Staff

Super Troopers is not so super. The movie is nothing more than a half-hearted attempt to poke fun at police officers. The plot of the entire movie is to fool viewers into
believing they should pay to watch it.

The story revolves around two police departments fighting over jurisdiction of the same area. The Vermont State Police Officers are in danger of losing their jobs
because their department lacks funding.

Capt. O'Hagan (Brian Cox) is an eccentric leader who tries to uncover a drug bust going through Canada. He and his pathetic officers do this by meandering around,
trying to come up with cool games they can play while pulling over a speeder.

O'Hagan's squad consists of trusting followers Thorny, Mac, Rabbit, Foster and Farva (played by Broken Lizard comedy troupe members Jay Chandrasekar, Steve
Lemme, Erik Stolhanske, Paul Soter and Kevin Haffernan, respectively).

This group can be described more accurately as a boy band than as a group of police officers. Thorny would be the "good leader," Mac would be the "wild and crazy
kid," Rabbit would be the "young kid," Foster would be the "lover boy," and Farva ... well, Farva's just a jerk.

There was only one aspect of this film that didn't make me feel like I was suffering, and that thing was Marisa Coughlin. She is beautiful in the role of Ursula Hanson, a
local police officer who is secretly helping the state police because she is in love with Officer Foster.

The entire movie is nothing but slapstick humor. The plot was ridiculous, the characters were ridiculous and therefore the movie was a ridiculous waste of money and
time. There was a notable attempt at having a twist at the end of the movie; however, it failed miserably.

Super Troopers

Starring Brian Cox, Ray Chandrasekhar, Marisa Coughlan

Rated R

* 1/2 (out of five stars)

Jeff Campbell

Daily Cougar Staff

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