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PHONE BOOTH

A double-dealing New York publicist steps into a phone booth, picks up the receiver and is told by a caller that if he hangs up, he’s a dead man.


CAST: Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard T. Jones, Radha Mitchell, Katie Holmes, Maile Flanagan, Chris Huvane, Tia Texada

DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher

"It's really more a gimmick than a movie, but it hammers you flat the whole way through. A man is stuck in a phone booth. He can't hang up. Who's he talking to? Bill collectors? A ranting wife? A particularly oppressive telemarketer? No: a man with a rifle…The movie would be much less enjoyable if Stuart Shepard were a doctor, a lawyer, even an Indian chief, some figure of earnest authority and respect. But he's lower than low, scummier than scum. He's a modern New York jet-set publicist…If you know your movie history, he's Sidney Falco's bastard son out of Lizzie Grubman. If you don't, you've seen him in the mags for years now, so beautiful, so ambitious, so wired, so pale, so utterly self-important, so utterly trivial. It must be said that Farrell, whom everybody says will be the next big thing, plays him smarmy, whiny and only toward the end marginally heroic. He doesn't let us like him or empathize with him, which took some discipline on his part." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"Although gussied up with all sorts of cinematic tricks and a jittery, ticking soundtrack, ‘Phone Booth,’ which Mr. Schumacher directed from a screenplay by Larry Cohen, is essentially a one-act radio play in which a sadistic voyeur with a high-powered rifle plays humiliating cat-and-mouse games with an urban everyman and taunts him into breaking down and confessing his sins…‘Phone Booth’ is bogus on every level, right down to its half-hearted trick ending…Mr. Farrell, who resembles a younger, bushier-eyebrowed Brad Pitt, acquits himself decently enough as the scuffling Bronx-born hustler who favors Italian suits. But this likable Irish actor, touted as Hollywood's studly flavor of the last several months, ultimately lacks the soulful magnetism that signifies a major screen presence." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"The movie is Farrell's to win or lose, since he's onscreen most of the time, and he shows energy and intensity…For the voice of his sniper, he [director Schumacher] calls on Kiefer Sutherland, who also starred in Schumacher's ‘The Lost Boys’ (1987), ‘Flatliners’ (1990) and ‘A Time to Kill’ (1996) and here takes the mostly (but not quite entirely) invisible role as a very useful favor to Schumacher--because if the voice doesn't work, neither does the movie. It does. I especially like the way the caller taunts Stu: ‘Do you see the tourists with their video cameras, hoping the cops will shoot so they can sell the tape?’" --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Writer Larry Cohen and director Joel Schumacher are moviemaking veterans, but the only question their new movie raises is: How many bad undergraduate ideas can you stuff in a phone booth?…the performances are too one-note and the movie alternately too frenzied and too frail to support irony…‘Phone Booth’ may not be awful, but it's puny." --Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun

"‘Phone Booth,’ a tabloidy, nail-biting thriller about a slimy publicist trapped by a rifle-toting sniper, once again demonstrates that hunky Irish actor Colin Farrell is a force to be reckoned with...Fearlessly throwing himself into a role that scared off Mel Gibson, Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Jim Carrey, Farrell delivers a tour de force in this clever cross between ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ and ‘Dog Day Afternoon’…Schumacher, who previously directed Farrell in his breakthrough film ‘Tigerland,’ keeps the action tight…Too bad his depiction of Manhattan street life is less than convincing. The West 53rd Street scenes, which were filmed in Los Angeles, don't look anything like contemporary New York--they're more like Manhattan of the late '70s, set on a street filled with smut peddlers and hookers in hot pants." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"‘Phone Booth’ would have been more flamboyant if Jim Carrey had played the main character, as originally planned, but his over-the-top energy might have thrown off the story's balance between suspense and irony. Mr. Farrell manages to hold the screen while leaving enough emotional space for other characters. Credit also goes to Joel Schumacher, who has directed Mr. Cohen's script with hardly a wasted move." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"The movie isn't a social commentary about violence. Director Joel Schumacher plays with film speed and uses a chaotic collage of cell-phone chatter and split-screens to show the disconnect and isolation caused by our rabid use of telecommunication technology. We're more accessible than ever, but we've never been more out of touch…Farrell is the perfect slick, fast-talking PR guy…Gripping in parts, tedious in others, the film works best when the action is brisk--there are points in ‘Phone Booth’ where the plot lags, and that's really saying something given how short the movie is." --D. Parvaz, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"‘Phone Booth’ isn't the deepest of thrillers, and it has flaws in logic and presentation, but the idea behind it is a grabber…the situation is so tense that you can overlook the thematic overreaching…‘Phone Booth’ is a lean, mean tension machine, setting up its premise, executing it with smarts, throwing in enough twists to keep things interesting, and wrapping it up before anyone can get fatigued or reflective." --Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune