Movie Reviews: Changing Lanes




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     Paramount (2 hrs.)
     An arrogant lawyer and a down-and-out businessman become involved in a minor traffic accident with tragic results.
     Samuel L Jackson, Ben Affleck, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack, William Hurt
Bottom Line:


"Changing Lanes" is a classic example of a forgettable movie. That’s not to say it’s a bad flick, because it’s not. It’s just not the type of movie that stays with you exiting the theater. It’s also not the topic of discussion at the office water cooler the next day.

The tragedy is, with its terrific premise and seasoned cast: Jackson, Affleck and Hurt, it could have been a wonderful Hitchcockian thriller.

In classic Hitchcock style, Jackson plays an everyman caught up in overwhelming circumstances he can barley comprehend. His credit is ruined, he’s locked in jail and his wife is taking his kids away.

Jackson’s ordeal begins on his way to court. He’s trying to keep joint custody of his two boys and prevent his estranged wife from relocating to Oregon. However, he gets into a fender bender with a young lawyer (Affleck), and the two men accidentally swap briefcases while exchanging information.

Jackson arrives too late to stop the judge’s decision, allowing his wife full custody of the boys. He blames Affleck for making him late, because Affleck left him stranded on the highway after the accident.

As it turns out, during the swap, Jackson inherited Affleck's important court papers that have to be filed by the end of the day. And he refuses to give them back out of retaliation.

The two men start playing dirty tricks on one another with Jackson catching the brunt of Affleck’s attacks, which includes bankrupting him. The problem with the film is it’s as if the writers painted themselves into a corner. After Affleck bankrupts Jackson, and finds through self-discover that he and his partners at the law firm are themselves morally bankrupt. The film stalls with an escalation of dirty tricks and no place else to go.

The end is wrapped in a typically Hollywood bow with a resolution that could only be concocted by scriptwriters plugging into a trite formula. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidentally.



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