[box cover]

The Gingerbread Man

While an entertaining diversion, The Gingerbread Man doesn't quite match the sum of its many good parts. Directed by Robert Altman from an original screenplay by John Grisham (credited as Al Hayes), the first thing one has to adjust to is Kenneth Branagh's southern accent, which is very good but also sounds a lot like Elvis Presley (you almost expect him to ask for some fried chicken and peanut butter sandwiches). But despite the questionable casting, Branagh is top-notch and fully invests himself in his role as Rick Magruder, a Savannah attorney who has a one-night stand with a stranger (Embeth Davidtz), only to discover that her insane father (Robert Duvall) is trying to kill her, and perhaps him as well. Grisham spins an enjoyable tale, and Altman's direction includes some of his best-known trademarks (extended takes, ambitious sound design, getting his actors to take off their clothes), but the magnificent Duvall is barely used, and Branagh's character makes some ludicrous decisions as the story unfolds. The Gingerbread Man is good for a spin with a few Sunday afternoon beers, but not nearly as engrossing as such other Grisham films as The Pelican Brief and The Firm. Also starring Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Tom Berenger, and Famke Janssen. Good transfer, DD 5.1, commentary with Altman (which is almost as valuable as the film itself), trailer.
—JJB



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