dir Steve Shill
scr David Loughery
with Idris Elba, Beyoncé Knowles, Ali Larter, Jerry O'Connell, Christine Lahti, Bruce McGill, Matthew Humphreys, Scout Taylor-Compton, Bonnie Perlman, Richard Ruccolo, Nathan Myers, Nicolas Myers
release US 24.Apr.09, UK 29.May.09
09/US Screen Gems 1h48
Leave us alone: Elba and Knowles

larter o'connell lahti
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Obsessed So hammy and overwrought that it's actually hysterically entertaining, this cross between Fatal Attraction and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle holds our attention despite its ludicrous plot.

Derek (Elba) is a high-flying executive in Los Angeles, deliriously happy with his wife Sharon (Knowles), baby son and new home. Then a sexy office temp, Lisa (Larter), comes on to him very strongly. His office buddy (O'Connell) tells him to go for it, but Derek clearly wants to remain faithful to his wife. On the other hand, he doesn't want Sharon to find out about it, because she has a rather uncontrollable jealous streak. When Lisa pushes things to the next step and beyond, a cop (Lahti) gets involved. And Sharon is not happy.

There's nothing remotely subtle about either Shill's direction or Loughery's script, as everything is painstakingly mapped out from the start (details of the big climactic sequence are foreshadowed in an opening montage). Meanwhile, the cast members go for over-the-top performances that are hilariously nuts. Both Knowles and Larter play characters who seem deeply unhinged from the moment we meet them, with wide-eyed glances, arched backs and innuendo-leaden inflection. Meanwhile Elba is terrific as the charming oaf who bumbles hopelessly through a messy situation.

There are more corny elements than we can keep track of, from the drunken Christmas party to the queeny assistant (Humphreys) and clueless babysitter (Taylor-Compton). And when things begin to get dark, the filmmakers chicken out and skirt around anything truly nasty (unlike Fatal Attraction). Since we know full well that Lisa is a force to be reckoned with, and that she won't leave the film quietly, the pleasure we get from watching the film comes from its full-on camp silliness.

And there's plenty of that to keep us chuckling right to the utterly bonkers finale. With so much sassy attitude, the film can't help but entertain us as it builds to a bruising catfight that could almost challenge Alexis and Krystle at the peak of their powers. And our enjoyment is increased by the sheer brazen stupidity of all of the characters (except Lahti's detective). In other words, it could be the best bad movie since Showgirls.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 26.May.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall