Dave's Rating:

2.0

… a cool premise and no guts …

Who's in It: Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Marquette

The Basics: A teen poet with a picture of Charles Bukowski on his bedroom wall — sure thing, E.E. Cummings — gets beaten to a poetic pulp and left for dead in the sewer by a gang of thugs led by a female teen model who wears a ski cap 24/7 to cover up the fact that she's pretty enough to be homecoming queen. But wait, just like in that Reese Witherspoon movie where she flits around making cute comments to Mark Ruffalo until he falls in love with what he believes to be her corpse, this kid's only sort of dead and spends the whole movie hovering between this life and the next, trying to detective his way back to life for himself and redemption for ski-cap girl.

What's the Deal? I hate it when a movie won't let someone just die. Bridge to Terabithia did. Ghost did, too. Patrick Swayze stayed dead-dead-dead, and no one seemed to mind. This one, though it's very much like Ghost but without the courage of its storyline, has to pretend something bad is happening. But — without spoiling the dumb ending — by midpoint you're under no illusions that the teen poet turned detective is on the right track toward getting his life back. He is, after all, invisible and can gather pretty much all the evidence he needs to make it right. You'd think after watching all three Final Destination movies, it'd be pretty clear to everyone that you can't cheat death. But you can with the right people behind the camera.

Where You've Seen Chatwin Before: Fittingly enough, he was Tom Cruise's son in War of the Worlds, another movie with a cool premise and no guts to deliver on the promise of death to a single main character.

Further Evidence That Oscars Don't Mean a Thing: Academy Award winner Harden collects a paycheck here as the one-note, domineering/overprotective/cold-as-ice mom in the rich-lady house. And I bet this was the best script she'd been offered lately, too. They always say that kind of thing in the interviews as the writer notes them picking at their salad: "You should have seen the other scripts I'd been reading!"

For Fans Of: High School Musical.

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