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WICKER PARK (PG-13) (2004)


Official Site

Director: Paul McGuigan

Producers: Andre Lamal, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg

Written by: Brandon Boyce

Cast: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Diane Kruger, Matthew Lillard


Wicker Park is the latest mediocre remake effort from Hollywood. I have not seen the original French film, L'Appartement, upon which the movie is based. Therefore, I have only this one to go on, though I'd wager that Josh Hartnett is no Vincent Cassel, and Rose Byrne, despite looking eerily similar, is definitely no Monica Bellucci- nor is German beauty, Diane Kruger.

Since the television ads and trailers make this movie look like a stupid horror flick, here's the long and short of it. Matthew (Hartnett) is a photographer, working for a big corporation based in NY, and has recently moved back to Chicago where he's about to marry a woman with teeth that would make Austin Powers jealous. Before he leaves on a business trip to China, he finds out that his long-lost love, Lisa (Kruger), is back in town. With the help of his old friend and shoe salesman, Luke (Lillard), Matt sets out to find Lisa. However, he only finds another Lisa (Byrne). It might sound confusing, but if I tried to explain the situation any more, the massive amount of text would probably give you an aneurysm-much like this movie nearly did to me. But don't worry- I'll get to that later.

Hartnett here demonstrates that he really wants to leave the teen flicks and dumb comedies behind and show that he's a viable leading man who can play with the big boys. (AN: For instance, see him opposite Harrison Ford in Hollywood Homicide, and boy did Hollywood ever commit a critical and financial homicide there- ba dum bum.) Despite a valiant effort, Hartnett still comes off as more of a leading lad who
just doesn't possess the charisma or presence necessary for this type of role. There's also Lillard, taking a break from playing Shaggy, and going back to the unfunny, air-headed comic relief he usually portrays. The best line in this film is when Lillard's character says to Matt, "Remember man, you're not funny." Well if the shoe fits, Lillard! Or as the Netcop, Scott Keith says, "I love shoot comments that aren't supposed to be shoot comments."

Worthy of discussion is McGuigan's directorial style for the film, which seems to resemble some type of French New Wave. For this movie, it came off as rather
excessive and superfluous. (AN: I always wanted to say "superfluous" in a movie review. Or have I already done that?) The narrative is sort of non-linear. Many scenes are broken up; plot points and exposition are presented through numerous, lengthy flashbacks. The plot is complicated to say the least, and even though the audience is able to piece together exactly what's going on rather early, the filmmakers decide to bombard us with even more expository nonsense. It over-complicates an already dull story, and just annoys to the nth degree. Just picture the third act of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban on whatever juice police officers found in WWE champion-turned-now-cut Minnesota Viking, Brock Lesnar's trunk. There are only so many "plot twists" a moviegoer can take.

Once the filmmakers were done going over nearly every minute detail with a fine-toothed toothpick, the movie still seemed to take forever to reach its "satisfying" conclusion- while still leaving out the foreshadowed situation of Lisa's jilted, widowed boyfriend seeking revenge. This movie- it's just as if the filmmakers were trying to make some sort of foreign art picture, but with Hartnett, Lillard, and the safe way the movie plays it, it's just too Hollywood for its own good. But hey Lillard, you still got Scooby Doo 3 right?


-Jeffrey "The Vile One" Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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