Directed by Roger Michell. USA. 2002.

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Changing Lanes

The Girl's Say...

Review by Jen Johnston

We here at the bureau of theatrical alarm react with a cool level of maturity whenever a new Ben Affleck movie is announced, similar to the way one would react when being hit in the face with a banana cream pie. Neither Mark, (my theatre going companion) or I are big fans of the man who is second only to Keanu Reeves in his ability to drag a film down into the dirt. Changing Lanes is uniquely awful.

In the few and far between moments when I was not prodding Mark to keep him awake, counting ceiling tiles, or making sarcastic comments, I mentally composed this synopsis of the *insert facetious tone here* thrilling moments of this movie.

1) The audience is introduced to Gavin Banick, a high powered attorney who needs to bring an important file to court.

2) On the way there he gets into a car crash with Doyle Gibson, AA member, and struggling father.

3) Gavin leaves his file and Gibson behind at the scene.

4) Shenanigans and goings on ensue. (Gavin wants the file, Doyle has the file, Doyle’s upset about being left on the side of the road, and threatens to destroy the file. Gavin becomes grumpy and petty. Doyle becomes grumpy and petty. Audience nods off.)

5) After the longest two hours of my entire life an ending occurs, chock full of silly metaphors and loose ends. The finale is so ridiculous that I got the feeling that the writers had absolutely no idea where to end things, so instead of going through a DESPERATELY needed re-write, elected to play eeni-meeni-meini-mo with all available script pages to choose the final minutes.

Ben Affleck (Phantoms, the upcoming Sum of all Fears) stars as Gavin Banick, the worlds most boring individual. Nothing Gavin says or does makes any sense at all. None of his actions are ever explained to any sort of satisfactory level, and he has no defined personality. He gets into a car crash, tries to buy his way out instead of going through insurance, and in later scenes is professing his rigid code of ethics. Gibson has his file, and once Gavin is in possession of his address and phone number he elects to turn off his credit, instead of, say, notifying the police who could have retrieved it for him. Gavin Banick is a dull irritant, made more so by the complete lack of any effort on Affleck’s part to make him an interesting character.

Samuel L. Jackson. Changing Lanes. All Rights Reserved.Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, the upcoming 51st State) is, for some reason known only to him, playing the King of the Wimpy people. I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but if someone makes me late for an appointment through an accident, I would most definitely be frustrated. I would probably complain. But I would not spend my day WHINING my brains out to anyone who’ll listen, when I probably should have left for my appointment fifteen minutes earlier. I might, say, attempt to FIX my problem by myself, instead of GRATING on everyone’s nerves by WHINING all the live long day. That, plus the fact that it is utterly impossible to take your eyes of Jackson’s goofy hat sported throughout the majority of the film, makes Gibson a nearly impossible character to like.

The question that does come lunging out at me from Changing Lanes is this....What the hell was editor Christopher Tellesfen (Gumbo, Man on the Moon) on? Since, as the editor, he made executive decisions that included the shots of Affleck’s left ear, scalp, and bottom of his shoes, not to mention the nausea inducing rapid fire traffic shots at the opening of the film, I think that he should have also made an executive decision to have an appropriate warning label affixed to the poster outside; “WARNING: Excessive viewing of Affleck’s soles may cause drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery while watching Changing Lanes.

Mark and I grew bored about five minutes into this picture, (an amazing thing, since we are both easily amused) and started in on witty banter, at a more than acceptable noise level. This continued for about 45 minutes when a very grouchy lady turned around and snapped “DO YOU MIND?!?” (I assume she was grouchy because she had shelled out $10.50 for this visual feast.) To her I now publicly apologize on behalf of Mark and myself for disrupting her evening with witty comments that the row seated behind us was laughing at. Next time we’ll know better. Next time, we’ll avoid Ben Affleck movies. Next time we’ll banter more quietly. Next time, we’ll throw our gummy bears instead.

Changing Lanes

The Boy's Say...

Review by Mark Fougere

It all begins with a little fender bender on the Manhattan FDR. The crashee, Doyle Gibson (Samuel L. Jackson; The Matrix, Shaft) a nerdy, recovering alcoholic who’s only goal throughout the film is to keep his ex from moving to Oregon/irritating Ben Affleck. You read that right. Jackson got paid millions of dollars. American Dollars, to irritate Ben Affleck (And I’m answering the phone for $7.50 an hour. Where’s the justice?). The crasher; Gavin Banick (Ben Affleck; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Phantoms) is a young, energetic lawyer lined up to take over the multi million law firm owned by his slimy step father (played by the incomparable director Sydney Pollack; Jeremiah Johnson, Out of Africa).

Jackson make his character the ray through the gloom that is this movie. He lets the audience become involved with his character, as we sense his sincerity from the get go. (Sadly this level of dramatic prowess doesn’t extend to the rest of the performers in the film.) There is a scene in which he realizes that after a long fight to keep his family with him, he has nearly nothing left to his name; no resources, few friends. This AA member gets so desperate, that he sits down at a nameless bar, looking long and hard at a bourbon with a twist. When he summons up the inner strength to ask for a cola, you can’t help but feel good for the guy.

Changing Lanes. All Rights Reserved.Affleck, sticking with the solid character he has established in all his other performances, decides not to break the trend by again showing us the same smug, egotistical man that he’s been in all films before Changing Lanes, and I suspect will continue to be long after. (An overwhelming sense of doom envelops me whenever I see his face in the trailers for Sum of all Fears.) A more talented actor than Affleck might have been able to work around the problem of having no set character, (being a bombastic cretin for the first chapter, and 'POOF'  out of nowhere the magical conscience fairy arrives with Affleck’s brand new set of morals) but since Affleck is still struggling with that battle to prove to audiences everywhere, that he is, in fact, a member of the human race, the problem of trying to summon up some range is clearly beyond him. Not only that, but the piss poor lawyer he portrays in the first (and only) courtroom shot in which he’s featured, suddenly changes into a SPECTACULAR mediator of which I’ve never seen the likes. Affleck’s every nuance as Banick makes Mariah Carey (Glitter) look like a gifted actress. 

When it was all over I stumbled out of the theatre, amazed to discover that only 2 hours had elapsed. I couldn’t believe that I had just paid $10.50 for a movie that offered the entertainment value of watching plums dry. My loyal partner in crime, Jenni (AKA Innej (It’s amazing how boring a movie is, when to entertain yourself, your many activities include figuring out what your name is backwards) and I were absolutely awestruck at how much of a disappointment this movie was. 
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