Wednesday, March 5, 2008


The Action Mutant…
doesn’t want to go to Disneyland.

Bulletproof (1996)

review by Joe Burrows

I know what you’re all expecting me to do. You’re expecting me to start this review negatively and rip on Adam Sandler unmercifully for being a horrible actor, comedian and all-around celebrity. Actually, I’m going to take the high road here and list all of the things he’s been involved in that I have liked over the years. That way, you can’t say I started this review off negatively. Here’s the list:

Airheads (though he was the third wheel)
Happy Gilmore
The Chanukah Song (though that’s when I was like 13)

There. The rest can be drug out to the town square and be burned like so many copies of Mein Kampf and Paul Reiser’s Couplehood. In a sense, I can’t really blame the guy, though (though he does give Rob Schneider regular work). He’s just providing humor for the lowest common denominator because he knows it will sell. And with each offering, the douchebags line up to the theaters like pigs to the trough. And his next one totally rips off one of the best quotes from the Coen Brothers masterpiece The Big Lebowski for its title! Oh well, at least we have proof that not ALL of his films work.

The Plot, as it was:
Sandler plays Archie Moses, a petty criminal that wants to get his friend Keats (Damon Wayans) into the drug racket he’s currently in. However, Archie doesn’t realize that Keats is really Jack Carter, an undercover cop who befriended Moses so he can get the opportunity to bust drug lord/used car magnate Frank Colton (James Caan). During the bust, Carter narrowly escapes death when Archie accidentally shoots him in the head. Carter returns to the job (with a metal plate in his head) and volunteers to escort Moses to the FBI for protective custody (as Moses is about to testify against Colton). Of course, the drop off is mucked up and the bickering duo ends up on the run and trying to find out who’s the leak in Carter’s department & to bring down Colton.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
48 Hrs., meet your not so distant cousin, Bulletproof. He never talks to you, nor will he ever admit you were his major influence (or that his uncle Midnight Run had any hand in its life either). Yet, he tries so hard to be like you, right down to the last detail. Too bad he didn’t seem to learn much from your repeated viewings. The studio interference director Ernest Dickerson cited in an interview a few years back might provide a large clue as to why Bulletproof was such a jumbled mess. It comes across as clumsily put together and poorly made; something that a studio would shelve if it wasn’t for Sandler’s rising star. El Captain is one of the worst things here but it’s not because of his “idiot man child” gimmick he’s run into the ground. Sandler’s macho bravado throughout the film (even when played for laughs) rings false every time. Can you picture Billy Madison holding a gun on someone in a menacing manner? Exactly. His tough guy brogue is more embarrassing than his baby talk shtick because the former doesn’t meet its intended effect. When he and Wayans play scenes straight, it actually works in getting the viewer to at least care about where the story is going. Some of the familiar bickering is funny, like Moses irritating Carter with his shower rendition of “I Will Always Love You” but it’s mainly repetitive (and overly crude for some) and the action is too shoddily staged to compliment or pick up where the humor fails. Caan looks to be there for the check, as his Texas accent is the most interesting thing about his character, and Kristen Wilson (as Carter’s girlfriend) adds nothing more than a pretty face and little else. Mark Roberts, as a creepy, backwoods hotel clerk, provides the film’s funnier moments but is only around for a scene or two. Ultimately, Bulletproof is fun at parts but its 85 minute run time (80 before the credits) is a reminder that it could have been a really good movie as opposed to a moderately amusing mess.

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- Monica Potter (Saw, Along Came a Spider) is the biker’s girlfriend at the bar.
- One of the gunmen at the motel shoot out is…you guessed it…Sven Ole-Thorsen! This would be his 3rd mention in this section.

Body Count/Violence: 26. Being your standard “Cop/Buddy” Action Comedy, Bulletproof contains a few car chases and a good amount of shooting, with some decent blood (the best being the “right in the fuckin’ eyeball” one). Lots of fights abound, which involve pool cues and pipes as well as Jack’s iron head.

Sexuality/Nudity: There’s a brief topless shot of a stripper, as well as a blurred shot of a topless woman in a porno while she’s being pleasured. I may be scarred forever of the sight of Sandler (or his double, who knows) getting a gun shoved up his soaped up ass by Wayans.

Language/Dialogue: All over the place. When the F bomb isn’t being dropped, there is plenty of other strong language, insults and sexual/homophobic language going on. Just like a big studio to order cuts in story and action but to leave in as many dick and fart jokes as possible.

How bad was it?:
The critics usually pepper an Action/Comedy with negativity but add Adam Sandler to the mix and they just downright savage it. When most weren’t writing about how crude and empty it was they brought up how close to 48 Hrs. it really was.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Though it grossed a modest $21.6 million at the box office, Bulletproof was one of the few Sandler vehicles that weren’t a box office bonanza. Released on 9/6/96 by Universal, the film did continue the Sandler tradition of hitting #1 its opening weekend with $6 million (though it didn’t have much competition; the next opener was the teen cult comedy Angus in 11th place). After that, it did the steady drop off from 1 to 3 to 5 to 7 and to 11. However, even if it was modestly budgeted (as the budget figures are unknown), it wasn’t a smash in any sense. By comparison, eight of Sandler’s films bested the total gross of Bulletproof during their opening weekend. I hate this man. Thanks, America!

Film: **/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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