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Famous People Looking Really Bad:
A Review of "The Gift"

by Margaret T. Minnick

2/26/01

No matter how much money he's getting paid, I wouldn't want to be Giovanni Ribisi. Every damn time that boy is in a movie he's either playing a psycho or a retard. Is that working well when he goes out to pick up ladies? I wonder.

Many years ago Giovanni was a TV kid actor on My Two Dads and Blossom. As an adult, he got his start, as best I can tell, as Phoebe's mealy-mouthed, semi-retarded brother on Friends. His roles since then (The Other Sister, for example) seem to have been tailor made for a mealy-mouthed semi-retard. He may want to look into this. If he doesn't take evasive action soon, he'll end up as the Generation X version of Steve Buscemi, a.k.a. Skinny Annoying Man.

In The Gift, Giovanni plays a mechanic who is partly nice and partly wet-your-pants scary. He is kind of sniffly and mumbly and seems to have some major psychological problems (which indeed, it turns out, he does). I would definitely avoid walking past this mechanic's garage if I lived in that town.

The town in question is called Brixton, in some Southern state. It is populated by famous people who look really bad. Hilary Swank, a.k.a. Mrs. Chad Lowe, commits the worst fashion crimes by far with her weird stretchy jeans and extreme mullet hair. Keanu Reeves plays her husband, and wears basic Hunter/Redneck gear. Giovanni, who always looks bad, is particularly repulsive because he is very sweaty and dirty. Katie Holmes also shows up, looking like a weird 80s version of herself (was she even alive in the 80s?). She has big-curled, Joan Collins-esque hair and blue satin dresses with Sandra Day O'Connor-style bows at the neck.

Cate Blanchett is the only one who looks pretty, so you know she is the Good One. You also know this because she is in every scene and has a kind of Earth Mother glow following her around. Well, it worked for me because I was rootin-tootin for her character the whole way through.

Cate plays a psychic who gives advice to the various people in the town, and thereby knows a lot of people and a lot of secrets. This becomes dangerous for her, and she ends up battling the evil Keanu, who is a voodoo-hatin' wife beater. For much of the movie, it's somewhat unclear which way the plot is going and what role of the various characters will eventually play. This characteristic alone makes The Gift a unique movie these days.

The plot of this movie is based on the assumption that all little Southern towns are full of scary people. There is no one in this movie to like except for Cate and her kids. Even the people who seem nice turn out to be evil. If you live in a small Southern town, then, this movie might scare the Bejeezus out of you. Consider yourself warned.

This movie scared the Bejeezus out of me anyway, because I saw it in Dallas, which is a big Southern city full of scary people. We went to the AMC 24, which was supposed to be the biggest movie theater in these parts, but turned out not to be (more on that in my upcoming article on Dallas).

The Gift was the only movie on the 24 screens that we even vaguely wanted to see, and we had to wait an hour for it to start. The air in the lobby was so full of popcorn butter particles that our eyes started to gel shut while we waited. Overweight people kept coming out of the movies they were watching to wait in line for 15 minutes to get their "Refillable Bucket-O-Popcorn" refilled. Small children came up and talked to me while I was trying to play Galaga in the lobby. Compared to that scene, this movie was a relief.


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Scary Giovanni Ribisi


Hilary Swank commits major mullet crimes.


Katie Holmes in her 80s fashions.


Pretty Cate

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