Sleepless: The Big Snooze

DATELINE:  Foxx Fones in Performance

Foxx Fones in Performance

Noise, car chases, unremitting violence, do not make this film distinctive from a plethora of faint-hearted copies. It too wants to be a franchise “cops in Las Vegas” series with Jamie Foxx. It’s optimistically called Sleepless. Not to be confused with Sleeper.

Foxx has worked hard to achieve a status as a solid actor of intelligent films, but like so many other stars, he must pay the rent. This film is a lease on his new, multi-million-dollar penthouse condo in Vegas.

How bad is this movie? Well, Foxx is stabbed in the gut early on in the film, bleeds profusely, but can still fight, run, and lift heavy bags of drugs with nary a squint in his demeanor.

When his clothes are blood-soaked, he finds a hotel casino laundry where he can immediately locate a tailored suit with white shirt (all the better for blood, you know) with henchmen hot on his trail.

His entire family becomes involved with the mob family. There is no joke hidden here—as the mob kidnaps his son, thinking Foxx is a bad guy who stole their drugs, when he is of course merely undercover, trying to find the mule, or jackass, in the police who is the real culprit.

Oh, is that a spoiler? Well, try this: he steals a show car in the casino and drives around inside, knocking over civilians and bad guys alike. You’d almost think this was a terrorist attack, but no—it is merely criminal enterprise at work. Viva Las Vegas.

The movie would be over in 45 minutes if not for a complication in which an overeager Internal Affairs officer steals the drugs, creating another endless chase.

When the big shoot-out occurs in the underground parking garage of the casino, Foxx’s wife happens to drive through with her gun in the glove box. (She’s a nurse, what did you expect? A first aid kit?)

If you have confused this movie mess with The Big Sleep, you don’t have narcolepsy, a habit of liking narcs, or need a sleep aid. Yes, this is Sleepless. Almost as funny as Sleepless in Seattle.

White House Downside



When we finally had a chance to see our preferred movie about terrorists blowing up the White House, we gave smug self-congratulations. Yes, this extravaganza was far more of a crowd-pleaser, and we generally don’t care for that sort of thing.

We vote for White House Down over Olympus Has Fallen Arches.

Both movies featured a special agent that is destined to be best buddy and savior to the POTUS. In this version Channing Tatum is a Capitol Hill mall cop who protects the Speaker of the House, but yearns to join the Secret Service. He just happens to come to the White House for an interview the day terrorists try to take the President hostage.

Fortunately Channing’s old girlfriend is a high-ranker in the Service and knows important people. These include the obligatory villain, dangerous James Woods as the turncoat head of the Secret Service. In some ways this movie reminded us of Seven Days in May, but with more shooting, explosions and a more unbelievable president.  It was more like Seven Hours in a Pressure Cooker Bomb.

No, wait a minute. In this movie Jamie Foxx plays the POTUS as if he were Barack Obama on ‘nice’ steroids.  Foxx has a difficult role in walking the walk of comic relief and action hero. Frederic March and Henry Fonda never could have pulled it off.

Tatum seems a little too young to have an 11-year old daughter, but even Chevy Chase finally gave in to movie fatherhood. We hope Channing does not morph into Fred MacMurray for the rest of his career.

The film pivots on coincidence and downright ludicrous notions that an army of terrorists can infest the White House like termites—without anyone noticing. If car chases through the Rose Garden and bombs bursting in air give you goosebumps, you have found your movie of the week.

 This movie’s first 30 minutes passed in the blink of an eye, as opposed to the turtle-like pace of Olympus Has Fallen. Channing’s movie daughter is like Alice chasing a black rabbit.

Even though priceless artifacts are destroyed with casual aplomb in the White House, and the Capitol Dome is spun like a dreidel, this film seems to engage on a human level too.

We learned some amusing trivia about the White House and enjoyed looking at Channing Tatum who exudes charm and smarmy swagger in every performance. However, he did not bare his buttocks for this movie. You can’t have everything.


Emphasis on the Silent D: Django



 When two young film buffs indicated to us how much they appreciated the old black & white films of yesteryear, we were suitably impressed with their knowledge and interest.

When they advised us to watch Django Unchained, we felt compelled to agree. This movie, directed by Quentin Tarentino, was not on our original list. We generally do not review movies we suspect will not hold up.

Not to our surprise, Django Unchained is historically inaccurate, but completely in synchronization with the old spaghetti western from which it is borne. On the other hand, it surprised us with its humor. Tarentino won points for closely studying the 1960s Western for its texture and tempo. The presentation is droll.

Riddled with familiar faces made the movie more enjoyable; we had not seen Dennis Christopher or Don Johnson in a few years. We were taken aback that star Leonardo di Caprio took third billing. All in all, the film began to overwhelm our expectations.

This film actually won praise for its satiric lapses. DiCaprio may have had fun with the role, but he seems unlike James Mason in Mandingo, playing his trump card too soon.

We always have a complaint, and ours is that this picture seems to cross Gone With the Wind with Roots—only in terms of length. Why a minor Western fluff needs to press the three-hour envelope is a question only answered by fans of Tarentino? Anachronisms abound, including sunglasses on the cool Django two years before the Civil War (incorrectly dated in the movie).

We shall no doubt see about three more Django sequels, rivaling the length of a TV miniseries. This movie deserves more than a silent ‘D’.