[box cover]

Don't Say a Word

The first half hour of Don't Say a Word is devoted solely to back story. It opens with one of those "only in the movies" exposition-heavy bank robberies where thieves take their masks off the second they're inside bank vaults and then waste precious time pulling out jeweler's loupes to examine their take and talk about what they're doing as the seconds tick away. Then we shift gears completely, getting a whole lot of stuff showing us what a caring, wonderful guy child psychologist/family man Michael Douglas is: He's great with his patients (we know that because he tells the teenager he's treating that's it's okay to masturbate). He's married — just like in real life! — to a gorgeous brunette half his age (Famke Janssen). He has a smart/sassy/adorable daughter whom he spends a lot of time being cute with so we'll care when she's placed in inevitable peril. Get on with it, already! you think ... and then the plot actually starts, and you'll wish it hadn't. The baddies, led by hunky Brit Sean Bean, kidnap Douglas's daughter so that he'll use his magical psychiatric powers to extract some decade-old, robbery-related information from a young mental patient (Brittany Murphy). Meanwhile, elsewhere in the big city, there's a cop (Jennifer Esposito) who's investigating a couple of murders that don't seem to have anything to do with anything until about two-thirds into the film, and whose character only exists because the movie needed a good guy to show up at some point with a gun. There's a lot of sinister cell phone calls from Bean, and Janssen is bed-ridden with a broken leg, which is supposed to be scary and Hitchcockian since the bad guys are watching her through this elaborate, utterly ludicrous system of cameras they've set up in the family's apartment. And there are plot holes the size of Winnebagos that leave you gaping in amazement, blurting out, "What the ...?!" and "He didn't know that?!" and "Jesus God, this is a bad movie!" If that's not bad enough, there's a scene that's supposed to be romantic between Douglas and the invalid Janssen that begins with him entering the bedroom leering, carrying a basin of water and a damp sponge (who on earth found the idea of Michael Douglas administering a sponge bath sexy?) Trapped in this steaming pile of a movie are Oliver Platt (who at times looks as if it pains him to have to actually mouth the dialogue he's been given — and he was in Flatliners!) and the amazing Brittany Murphy, acting her ass off for absolutely no reward. Fortunately, both these actors have already moved on to bigger, better and more deserving things, and will have careers long after Don't Say a Word has receded into little more than a blot on their resumes. Fox's DVD offers a sharp anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with bold DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include a commentary track by director Gary Fleder and another track with actors Douglas, Bean, Murphy, Janssen, and Platt; deleted scenes; a "making-of" featurette; featurettes on the set design and scoring; dailies; storyboard-to-screen comparisons; and a lot more. Murphy's screen test is included and indeed she is impressive — the effect is to make you wish that she played this character in a good movie. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor