Remember when Pauline Kael, in her review of The Sting, wrote that “Robert Redford...has turned almost alarmingly blond—he’s gone past platinum, he must be into plutonium”? You wonder the same hairdresser nonsense about Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black. Playing an angel of death, he’s Redford doing a modified Gump. Yielding to my temperament controlling tolerance, it’s probably a terrible performance, and if it isn’t, it’s definitely a terrible idea of a character in an equally terrible idea for a movie. But director Martin Brest is used to doing movies with bummer fillings—Scent of a Woman, for example. (With three successive conclusions, he didn’t know when or how to end it.) No movie about death taking a brief holiday has much business being a holiday attraction, in theatres or on cable. (If Heaven is brimming over with good people, what’s the rush to take principled Anthony Hopkins? Just because he’s 65?) Nor should such a movie be nearly three hours long. Reeking of indulgence, Meet Joe Black becomes sophomorically lulling. It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to slap actors to wake them up.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.