[Sidebar] April 5 - 12, 2001
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Along Came a Spider

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her popcorn and Coke. Along came a spider and sat down beside her and said, "Is this s'posed to be some kinda joke?"

If so, it isn't funny. One can only guess what possessed Morgan Freeman to sully his reputation with this mind-numbing showcase of hoary detective-flick clichés, astoundingly bad dialogue, and absurd plot twists. Lee Tamahori's adaptation of James Patterson's novel opens with detective Alex Cross (Freeman, reprising his role from 1997's Kiss the Girls, in the film's only good performance) watching helplessly as his partner dies in a particularly unsettling manner that's partly his fault. For months afterward, Cross is a wreck -- unable to do much besides tinker with his model ships. But wait! When a psychopathic teacher (creosote-throated Michael Wincott) kidnaps a senator's daughter and purposely involves Cross in the case, a chance for redemption arises. Cross teams up with Jezzie (Monica Potter), the Secret Service agent who was charged with protecting the girl, and they set out doggedly to find her.

The "plot" that follows reheats every hackneyed crime/thriller device imaginable. It's insultingly rote. Finally, one character's death makes it appear that the whole thing is about to wrap up. Then a pall comes over Cross's face as he says, "It's not over." Not a few people in the screening I attended groaned audibly. After that, there's a final twist that may shock -- shock! -- you. But probably not. At the Apple Valley, Flagship, Holiday, Hoyts Providence 16, Showcase, Swansea, and Tri-Boro cinemas.
-- Mike Miliard

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