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Kino Korner August 23, 2001
Matt Taibbi's Film Fun (for kids aged 9 to 11)
By Matt Taibbi Browse author
Page 2 of 2
While Neill twiddles his thumbs waiting for a grant, a stranger appears in his world -- William H. Macy, the father of the bowl-cutted missing child. Macy presents himself as a rich businessman willing to pay Neill an exorbitant amount of money to take him on an aerial tour of Ingen 2/Jauai. But in fact he is not a rich businessman, but... Jerry Lundergaard! That's right, the legendary small-time Minnesota loser from the Coen brothers classic, Fargo, is resurrected without alteration in Jurassic Park III as a lily-livered hardware store owner who'll do anything to save his child. How the small hardware store owner manages to have the funds to hire a private army and a charter airplane is not explained in any satisfactory way, but it's expected that we all go along with it -- as the vest-wearing Neill does, with total credulity.

It was a bit surprising to see Macy, a very good actor, whoring out a character he's already played in such a nakedly commercial film. Usually this professional technique is the exclusive province of far more annoying screen performers, like Geoffrey Rush (who resurrected his "Casanova Frankenstein" villain character from Mystery Men for his loathsome Oscar-hopeful role as the Marquis de Sade in Quills) or the dickless Robert Sean Leonard (who has been doing a version of the "O Captain, My Captain" speech in every performance since his inaugural role in Dead Poets Society). Of course the trend began with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, but does that excuse Michael Keaton playing Beetlejuice in Much Ado About Nothing? Is nothing sacred? Fargo was a great movie and there's no doubt that JP3 director Joe Johnston was attracted by the idea of throwing Jerry Lundergaard onto a dinosaur-infested island, but does that mean it has to happen?

Apparently it does. In any case, the result of Macy's "aerial tour" of the island -- actually a military search party, in which the unwiiting vest-bearing Neill is brought along as a guide -- are predictable. Almost everyone dies, although Macy's wife, Teo Leoni, unfortunately lives to the end, unpunished by God for her participation in the grossly saccharine Nicholas Cage Christmas vehicle, The Family Man. As a nod to market demographics, there is a Negro in the search party, but Johnston deals with him summarily within thirty seconds after the party lands on the island, and white audiences as left feeling comfortable for the remainder of the movie.

Of course it turns out that the vastly physically superior Velociraptors are, as Neill predicted, enormously intelligent and capable of speech, but somehow these athletic killing machines are outwitted by a bunch of middle-aged actors flailing around in a studio lagoon. Everyone goes home, the bowl-cutted child is saved, and Laura Dern reappears in Neill's life in some supportive, nonsexual capacity. The credits roll before Ingen 2 can be destroyed, as would happen in real life, leaving the door open for countless sequels, probably involving a little girl in the next and Ellen Degeneres in the one after that. Lovable man-child Robin Williams has been rumored to be desperate to squeeze his way into the wonder-inspiring dinosaur films, but there appear to be no roles open for Williams in a Spielberg lizard vehicle until at least 2009. In the meantime, there's always hope that the What Dreams May Come sequel will finally get made. But I wouldn't bet on it. True art always has its opponents. Ask me, I should know.

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