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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.21%
Worth A Look62.26%
Just Average: 7.55%
Pretty Crappy: 3.77%
Sucks: 13.21%

5 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Door in the Floor, The
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by Erik Childress

"Not-So Wonder Boys"
4 stars

The Door In The Floor takes us to places many other lesser dramas have before. Coming-of-age sexuality coupled with griefing adulterers is usually the stuff of uninspired fiction and independent films looking to titilize and shock the viewer into believing the filmmaker is some brand of artiste. Except the soul of this film belongs to John Irving, one of our most treasured novelists, who specializes in life lessons with a hard-edged quirk that is impressively captured by director Tod Williams and a performance by Jeff Bridges which ranks amongst the year’s best.

I am just an entertainer of children and I like to draw.” The way Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) says this over-and-over again would have most looking at him like Michael Jackson. His case isn’t helped by walking around naked with his 4-year old daughter or the illustration for his titular story that clearly contains the representation of a penis. But he’s a famous writer living amongst the Hampton community so its usually wide-eyed gazes he receives than winces for his “entertainment.”

As the film begins, Ted proposes separation to his wife, Marion (Kim Basinger) who has been all but comatose since a tragic accident cost them the lives of their sons. In a bit of questionable emotional Ben-Gay, the couple had Ruth (Elle Fanning, sister of Dakota) to mend their loss despite their hallway being a photographic shrine to their boys.

Without a driver’s license Ted hires an assistant, Eddie (Jon Foster), a 16-year old writing student for a summer job that includes running menial errands and driving him to-and-from his nude model and mistress, Mrs. Vaughn (Mimi Rogers). One look at Marion though gives him that special feeling in his pants and she’s flattered that anyone would think of her so fondling (I mean, fondly). The two of them hop into a sexual relationship; one that neither seem to have any interest in hiding.

Traditional treatments of this material would focus squarely on the sex and the danger in keeping it a secret. This is where Irving’s prose becomes his own. Ted is not a moron and suspects what’s going on. He’s not thrilled by any means, but allows the transgression and sees it as an advantage in a marriage he has no plans to reconcile. Marion, in turn, knows Ted all too well and schools Eddie further in the chess moves he must recognize to counterattack; unaware that he’s nothing more than a pawn himself in a hinted incestuous relationship.

The adaptation of the film comes from the first of the three chapters in Irving’s A Widow For One Year; the latter two of which refer to the grown-up Ruth. The book’s title also refers to the daughter, but in context can also accurately describe Marion, who has been disassociated from Ted for too long to classify it as living nuptials. Tod Williams is most successful when dealing with their loss and how every individual has their own way of acting through it. By sticking with just the first section of the novel, the character of Marion doesn’t have the most complete of resolutions but the way Ted deals with it speaks volumes.

This is classic Jeff Bridges, an actor whom we should just retire the term “underrated” to describe him and give the man his due as one of the finest actors in any medium. Ted is certainly a lout, but Bridges imbues him with cause and a sense of ridiculousness that doesn’t necessarily endear him but allows us to understand his every motivation. Bridges delivers a central monologue about writing that is more substantial than anything I was taught in English classes and film school. Not only is it brilliant, but it foreshadows an even more powerful speech later on and a hilariously creepy scene as Ted tries to convince a mother-and-daughter to be his next project. Watch Bridges move through this scene with the effortlessness of a London symphony conductor, aware that they are on to him and yet still tries to comfort their mistrust. As Ted says earlier, the climax of this scene is hinted to us and yet it still manifests with a great comic surprise.

The Door In The Floor never quite works as a coming-of-age story since Eddie’s transition from geekish outsider to confident arrogance is too streamlined. It’s hard to believe such a decent-looking chap wouldn’t have a place amongst the in-crowd to begin with and Foster’s performance suffers as a result. Williams tells the tale though with Irving’s quirks intact and has Bridges to pick up the slack whenever it falters. Every film should be that fortunate.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10200&reviewer=198
originally posted: 07/14/04 09:54:05
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User Comments

1/06/11 evelyn hitten on all fours 5 stars
7/27/06 drydock54321 has some good moments 3 stars
2/27/06 Sully Bridges has a killer ass.....I mean Basinger, yeah, that's who I meant 4 stars
8/16/05 ES As with the Skeleton key, you have to sit through a pile of boring to get to the good parts 4 stars
7/26/05 Laura Lee Macleod poignant, central performances very good, Basinger and Bridges are good together 4 stars
6/17/05 stage artistic, but not at all moving or interesting. job well done, but why? 3 stars
5/05/05 kaz had me thinking about the movie for ages afterwards 4 stars
3/11/05 Nick Boyd Jeff Bridges gives an Oscar worthy performance 4 stars
2/01/05 Lynde Foy OMG What a long drawn out psychobabble-of-a-movie--the ending is too funny- 2 stars
1/26/05 Judy Kappen Liked it a lot 4 stars
1/25/05 lucas good performance fro Jeff; lackluster filmmaking 1 stars
12/21/04 albert jeff bridges ,best living actor in the world. 5 stars
9/05/04 ownerofdajoint basinger and bridges are both very good in this one 4 stars
8/15/04 jack sisson thought provoking and suspenseful 5 stars
8/12/04 tonycovatta Well acted, but a very disjointed script. the final symbol does not carry the burden 3 stars
8/08/04 sonia Loved this movie!!!!! 5 stars
8/02/04 Phil_Mtooth Jeff Bridges gives a wonderful performance 4 stars
7/28/04 fred wall looming cult classic, bridges superb 5 stars
7/25/04 Nuwanda Didn't know it was an adaptation, but could guess by the gaping narrative holes 2 stars
7/23/04 louise an emotional ride well worth taking 5 stars
7/18/04 twilliams606 great movie! 5 stars
7/09/04 Ray Solid drama 4 stars
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  14-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Tod Williams

Written by
  Tod Williams

  Jeff Bridges
  Kim Basinger
  Mimi Rogers
  Bijou Phillips

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