by David Cornelius
OK, here’s how it’s going to go: I’m going to tell you that “The Librarian: Quest For the Spear” is a terrific chunk of fun. You are going to laugh at me, insisting that no movie called “The Librarian” can be any good. I will counter that I thought the same way until I actually watched the thing and discovered its tongue-in-cheek nature that allows for a bit of lighthearted self-parody. You’ll say “huh, didn’t expect that.” And, after a while, maybe you’ll get around to watching it yourself, after which you’ll find yourself trying to convince others that a movie called “The Librarian” is a terrific chunk of fun.The film, produced for TNT with the appearance of kicking off a series of cable-movie sequels (indeed, a follow-up is in the works), is as dopey a globetrotting action flick as “National Treasure” or “Sahara.” And like those films, there’s a massive debt owed to Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones. But “Librarian” adds in a generous helping of comedy, to the point that not only are we not supposed to take anything seriously here, but we’re supposed to realize just how silly it all is. After all, this is the movie that delivers Bob Newhart’s very first on-screen fight scene. If this sounds like something you’d like to check out, please follow me.
"It's a whole lot of fun. Really! It is! Why are looking at me like that?"
Noah Wyle stars as Flynn Carsen, professional student. Fueled by a desire to learn - and an unspoken fear of the real world that finds him living with his mother (Olivia Dukakis) - Flynn has been in college for sixteen years, earning twenty-two degrees (four in Egyptology alone). A fed-up professor pushes him out of school and into society, but he’s not out there for long. His genius is quickly noticed by Judson (Newhart), a mysterious employee of the New York Public Library who, along with the bitter, terse Charlene (Jane Curtin), recruits him to be… The Librarian!
So it’s not as heroic as it sounds, but that is, of course, the point. The Librarian is the defender of the world’s most important artifacts - the Mona Lisa, Pandora’s Box, the Ark of the Covenant (the design of which is certainly familiar), etc., etc. But on Flynn’s first day on the job, bad guys led by Kyle MacLachlan (so deliciously hammy that all he needs is a mustache to twirl) steal one of the three pieces of the Spear of Destiny, the spear that punctured Jesus’ flesh while he was on the cross, the spear that, once reassembled, will grant its holder absolute power. And so Flynn’s off to find the other two pieces before the bad guys do.
If you think this is too ridiculous to accept, realize that this is a film in which the hero declares: “The fate of the world is in my hands? That is just so sad.”
In fact, it’s Wyle who sells the picture. Yes, the film is overloaded with cheesy moments and cheap special effects, but we roll with them, forgive them, all because our guide on this tour of goofball adventure is an affable, oftentimes hilarious dopey guy. Wyle gives Flynn an endless supply of self-deprecation, but not so much that he becomes unlikable. The result is a geek hero worthy of his own film series.The strength of the players (Sonya Walger and Kelly Hu round out the cast, both kicking their fair share of ass in the process) keeps the movie afloat through all of its rough patches, and keeps us watching even though the product never rises above “cheesy cable TV flick” status. But it’s a fun cheesy cable TV flick, a slice of winking B movie giddiness that charms us into smiling through all the nonsense. I had a blast watching “The Librarian,” and the film’s playful ending had me eager to catch the upcoming sequel. Get over your hang-ups about watching a movie with such a seemingly bad title, and jump in for a delightful little ride.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12954&reviewer=392
originally posted: 08/27/05 18:01:15