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Don't Say A Word

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Starring: Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy, Famke Janssen, Sean Bean, Patrick Koster, Jennifer Esposito, Skye McCole Bartusiak, and Isabella Fink

Directed by: Gary Fleder



Don't Say A Word had such a promising preview...Too bad it decided to go off into Mediocre Land so quickly.

Michael Douglas is great; he's just in the wrong movie. I'm sure the script read intelligently enough, the makers just left out about seven scenes that would help us, the audience, stay with them. Michael seemed to be on a different page from the rest of the cast.

The movie starts with the oh-so-done gem heist lead by Sean Bean. But there's a double cross — that's a shock — and now the revenge begins…but it's quickly ten years later.

Through a series of silly flashbacks that become repetitive and just mentally frustrating, we are suppose to see the bad guy doublecrosser being killed by the bad guy gang whom he double crossed. They are after the gem he snagged, but they manage to kill him before they get it. Oops. The gang knows, somehow, the doublecrosser's little girl, who witnessed the killing, knows were the gem is. So, after they all go to jail for killing her dad they come after her.

Okay so far. Until the plot starts to rear it's diaphanous head. The girl, now seventeen or so, Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy) has been "hiding out" in state run mental institutions. She's been in over twenty hospitals so far with the "I'm so traumatized, I'm catatonic" routine. She gets her medicinal cocktail of sedatives and mood enhancers but it has no effect - sure. These professionals just can't get through to her.

Teen psychiatrist extraordinaire, Dr. Conrad (Michael " Hey, this bought me another condo in Bermuda folks" Douglas) is called in, emergency style, by his ex-partner (we are lead to believe by the contrived banter) to assist the girl before they lock her up forever and throw away the key…The last ten or so years she's been tossed around excluded of course.

Dr Sachs (Oliver -should stick to Indies- Platt) explains to Dr. Conrad they've got to get through to this girl and quick — for her own good. Within four frames Dr. Conrad figures out the girl is scamming the hospital. She's not mental at all.

Her records show her as the child found wandering an island in the middle of New York, and murdered "John Doe's" child. That's her dad that was murdered in front of her…John Doe; her name is Elisabeth Burrows though. Following me?

Next thing we know the bad guy gang, from the murder/heist ten years ago, kidnaps Dr. Conrad's eight year old daughter, Jessie (Skye McCole Bartusiak). Why? Seems catatonic gal Elisabeth has a number locked away in her head they need to lead them to the gem.

How'd they know that? Who knows, the script didn't make us privy to that information.

The kidnapers want Dr. Sachs and Dr. Conrad to get that number for them! Make her speak. The two are given a ridiculous deadline, of eight hours, to retrieve this number from a girl, who remember, all but the brilliant Dr Conrad believe to be a mental beef stew of psychoses'.

The first of many disappointments comes about here, when Dr. Conrad appeals to Elisabeth. He tells her about his daughter and pleads with her to help him. She can't recall the number, but she does a 360° mental recovery — aside from the one or two bouts of flashback trauma of the "day" she witnessed her dad's death. As if.

The next hour or so is filled with unexplained twists, and far fetched scenarios that make an audience squirm with the obvious in congruencies before them. The film's subplots and implausible window of events all culminate in a truly ridiculous stand off at a graveyard. I giggled more then once at the film's fallacies. Too many to list.

Shame on Oliver Platt. He has been doing some pretty blasé stuff as of late. What happened to him? He's becoming "O-oh, Oliver's in it? it's gonna suck." How sad.

Michael Douglas was great, but when everything around a great performance is annoying and mediocre who's going to care? He's looking like a matured cutey bun too, he's still no blueberry bagel dripping with oozing butter and toasted edges, but cute. Catherine's doing something right.

The girl playing Elisabeth, Brittany Murphy, started out believable and strong. I think the script brought her performance grade down to simply passing. Keep an eye out for her; she seemed to have a rough shine within. Oddly I still feel like this after two suck bag films. She was in Summer Catch. Maybe she should think about a new agent? Or a script reader?

Jessie, Dr Conrad's kidnaped daughter, played by a tiny Jodie Foster-esque little actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, was a charming actress (besides the hoity toity Hollywood moniker). Perhaps, a star in the making.

Famke Janssen shows up as the bed ridden Mrs. Conrad. Her character delivers a handful of the hundred or so "oh as if scenes" in the film. My eyes still ache from the reactionary rolling around they suffered through this farce. Famke's a great actress and here is no different, but she's not given much at all; nadda to work with. Working with poo is still working with poo after all.

Don't Say A Word is a colossal thesaurus of disappointment adjectives. I'd say wait for rental but there's just nothing that warrants even a viewing.

Snack Recommendation: Pb&jelly sandwiches.


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