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USA 1998
Directed by
Martin Brest
178 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Meet Joe Black

There are bad movies, really bad movies and then there’s Meet Joe Black. Martin Brest’s Gigli (2003) is regularly cited as one of the worst films of all time, but its kid’s stuff compared to this thick-as-treacle-and-twice-as-slow nonsense. Brest's work has tendency towards sentimentality, well evident in his previous film, Scent Of A Woman but here it runs rampant, pumped up by expensive production values, glossy photography and a saccharine score from Thomas Newman and is brought to its knees by a witless script and bad casting.

The story, a reworking of a 1934 movie, Death Takes A Holiday, which was remade as a telemovie in 1971 and which started life as a 1920s stage play of the same name has Death in the form of an attractive young man (Brad Pitt) who comes to the Rhode Island home of a super-rich publisher (Anthony Hopkins), where he decides to dally awhile to learn the ways of earthlings, an adventure that, not surprisingly, involves falling in love with the publisher’s gorgeous daughter (Claire Forlani).

If Hopkins is not greatly different from his reliable screen self, Pitt is bad in equal parts as both a young hunk and Death, whilst Forlani’s main function is to simper to the point of deliquescence in his supposedly irresistibly cute presence. The support cast is of a calibre of consistent quality with Marcia Gay Harden supposed to be Hopkin’s daughter but looking old enough to be his mother. Whilst the script is lifeless, it is really Brest’s direction that carries nothing before it, making this a full-frontal leap into cliché and contrivance that builds to an ending so laughable that it's almost worth sticking around for.




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