movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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JANAURY MAN (1989)

Cast: Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Harvey Keitel, Danny Aiello, Rod Steiger, Alan Rickman
Director: Pat O'Connor
Producers: Christopher Cook, Norman Jewsion, Ezra Swerdlow
Screenplay: John Patrick Shanley
Cinematography: Jerzy Zielinski
Music: Marvin Hamlisch
Rating:

Alan Rickman as the artist next-door neighbour of detective Nick StarkyCategory: Crime/Mystery/Comedy

The Plot: As New York counts down the final seconds of the year, a serial killer murders the best friend of the Mayor's daughter (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). At a loss to the identity of the killer, the mayor tells The Police Commissioner (Harvey Keitel) to reinstate his super-sleuth brother, Nick (Kevin Kline), to find the killer. Without a qualm, Nick gives up a promising career as a fireman and ropes in the mayor's daughter and his next-door neighbor (Alan Rickman) to find this dastardly killer.

Comment: Trouble was brewing when the copy on the video cover didn't match the film. "Now it is almost January and Nick Starky... has been expelled from the force." With the ball descending in Times Square and the final 10 seconds of the year being counted down in the opening sequence, it is frighteningly close to January! Then the copy continues to say, "The January Man - a black comedy set against the murder and corruption of fearsome Los Angeles..."To the best of my knowledge, Los Angeles isn't an elongated island with a lot of brownstone buildings. Thus the scene is set for the rest of the movie...

The film starts off on a strong foot, but one gets the impression that as the film unfolds, even the actors knew they weren't going to win in this one. It obviously flounders between whether it should be a comedy or crime thriller. It looses on both accounts with the film unfolding like a cheesy cops and robbers script written by an enthusiastic teenager, with every single cliché from Casablanca to Hudson Hawke. The film is not assisted by unenthusiastic and stilted deliveries by most of the cast.

At best, Kevin Kline can be said to give an outstanding rendition of a really, really bad Humphrey Bogart. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Susan Sarandon obvious acting abilities are just wasted in this film, even though they try to deliver their cliched lines with some life. I don't know if Danny Aiello is genuinely bad in this film or just appalled at the way his character develops into the hackneyed 'tough cop with a soft heart.' Alan Rickman's debut scene in the film is a delicious piece of irony, but unfortunately, it is the only highlight in the film. By the end of the film, one hopes he was wincing every time he delivers one cheesy line after another, each one getting sinking more and more into the dreadful hell of 'lines best forgotten.' Actually, maybe all the cast were wincing which would account for the emotionless deliveries...

This movie is best watched when you don't particularly feel like thinking and just seeking mindless entertainment and mild action. If you are in any other frame of mind, you will only be disappointed.

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