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Overall Rating

Awesome: 37.57%
Worth A Look41.62%
Just Average: 3.47%
Pretty Crappy: 10.4%
Sucks: 6.94%

8 reviews, 125 user ratings

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Phone Booth
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by Rob Gonsalves

"What? A Joel Schumacher movie that doesn't suck?"
4 stars

I happened to see 'Phone Booth' on Roger Corman's 77th birthday, and chances are that the old B-movie skinflint would heartily approve of the movie.

Corman, of course, is the guy who shot an entire film -- Little Shop of Horrors -- in just over two days; the director of Phone Booth, Joel Schumacher, brought his movie home in ten days and brings it in at a snappy 81 minutes. I doubt Corman would've spent as much money on extras playing cops (he would've had about twelve cops, and hired Dick Miller to play eight of them), but we can't have everything.

File the following under Things I Never Dreamed I'd Say: I had a fine time with this movie directed by Joel Schumacher. This formerly glitz-addicted and hype-addled filmmaker (the two worst Batman movies, A Time to Kill, etc.) has been gesturing towards smaller, grittier fare of late; 8mm (1999) repulsed me so much I skipped his next two, Tigerland and Flawless, which seemed like honest enough attempts at something different, though Schumacher had to go and make Bad Company to prove to the studios that he still had a knack for big stupidness. Phone Booth is a Joel Schumacher movie for those who don't like Joel Schumacher movies. It's no classic, and any ten directors in thriller-movie history could've tightened the screws more elegantly and maliciously, but Schumacher at least tells the story fast and hard. He serves the story.

And that story -- by Larry Cohen, veteran of many gimmicky yet amusing B-movie scripts (It's Alive, God Told Me To, Q) -- is essentially one long conversation (it could easily be adapted to the stage). Suave New York publicist Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is trapped in a city phone booth by a moralizing sniper (Kiefer Sutherland, sounding richly entertained throughout) who wants Stu to fess up to his various crimes of dishonesty. Stu, married to comely shop owner Kelly (Radha Mitchell), has been pursuing a flirtation with aspiring actress Pam (Katie Holmes), calling her every day from this very phone booth. The phone rings, Stu picks up, and the game begins.

Soon, someone is shot, Stu is blamed, the cops (led by Forest Whitaker in the Die Hard role of the rotund, sensible black officer on whose intelligence the hero's life rests) get involved, and Stu, commanded by the sniper not to leave the booth or spill the beans, is caught in a standoff. Like Dennis Hopper in Speed, the psycho in Phone Booth has thought of everything. He doesn't just want to kill Stu; he wants to force Stu, in a kind of brute intervention, to lay bare his soul and strip away the layers of lies that insulate him. After a while, Stu is sort of wishing the psycho would just kill him.

Schumacher discovered Colin Farrell on Tigerland, and he places this movie fully in Farrell's care. Farrell has been groomed as the next big thing, but he doesn't really need grooming, and Schumacher knows it; Stu's connection to the audience grows stronger the grubbier and more desperate he gets. And there's an added edge to the casting: with most A-list stars, the story would be hampered by the audience's awareness that nobody could possibly think that, say, Tom Cruise would shoot someone. But what Colin Farrell has to sell is his bad-boy image, his amiable-regular-drinking-guy persona (last seen in the young Mel Gibson) with a pocket of craziness underneath. On television monitors during the standoff, Farrell's Stu looks like the kind of guy you'd see on live TV coverage. He's plausible as both a hero and a suspect, a tricky balancing act.

If 'Phone Booth' is a hit -- surely the first Joel Schumacher film that deserves to score -- credit will go less to Schumacher than to the actor whose meltdown he photographs without fuss.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7220&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/03/07 22:02:12
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell tense entertaing thriller 4 stars
12/20/14 Dane R. Youssef An enthralling claustrophobic thriller. Almost makes one happy phone booths are extinct. 5 stars
11/05/11 Chris. Everyone I know hates it--not sure why... 4 stars
2/19/11 Ark Confession scene was killer. Farell trying to hedge , killer ordering him to tell! 4 stars
5/31/10 User Name The menacing voice of Kiefer Sutherland makes this thriller two hours of palpable tension. 3 stars
4/28/10 brian Thank you Mr. Hitchcock for making films like this possible. 4 stars
1/16/10 Movie Hater! Hollywood selling names with this crap! Wish I never saw it! I am tainted! Weak as shit! 1 stars
10/27/09 the dork knight Defies logic at a few points, but a slick and imaginative thriller. Farrell pwns. 5 stars
10/19/08 Samantha Pruitt pretty good, very suspenseful and interesting! 4 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
11/18/07 R.W.Welch Pushes the gimmick to the max, but very good work by Farrell. B- 4 stars
3/30/07 action movie fan teriffic suspense-farrel trapped in phone booth wrongly accused 5 stars
3/06/07 dprodigy Kiefer's voice is COMIN TO KILL MEEEEEEE! 4 stars
1/09/07 johnnyfog Bad ending (like most thrillers), but probably one of Farell's best performances. Wow. 4 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
9/06/06 Booksworm Kiefer Sutherland has the scariest voice I've heard since Andy Serkis in Lord of the Rings! 4 stars
3/28/06 Anthony Feor Can somebody tell me why this movie was made 1 stars
1/18/06 JM Synth Alot of fun... if you can get past the first 10 minutes 4 stars
12/25/05 CZ By far the worst and most forgettable film I've ever watched 1 stars
11/08/05 Stan L tense and entertaining, if short 4 stars
10/27/05 tatum One of Schumacher's strongest films 5 stars
10/26/05 chris a great movie i loved it and congradulations to collin farrell for a great performance 5 stars
10/12/05 Wisamane colin farrell is a shitty actor, reuind the movie 1 stars
10/11/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME, ONE OF Kiefer Suhterland's BEST FILMS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/22/05 ES Makes me want pizza everytime I see it, worth a look for anyone who enjoys a thriller 4 stars
4/19/05 The Sorrow A CHILLER-THRILLER-KILLER of a movie...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/08/05 Melissa B Fantastic chiller. Colin Farrell plays his part very well. 5 stars
3/11/05 The Sorrow Very hypnotic... Better than most thrillers today! 5 stars
2/22/05 Richard Simmons colin farrell is hott, and im not even gay! 2 stars
2/15/05 yeya regalado this movie wus da clean!!! 5 stars
1/21/05 Mr. Durden This movie is really good. At the very least, give it a rent. 5 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams Damn good. Kiefer's voice gives me goosiebumpies 5 stars
11/23/04 Steve Newman 90 minutes of great entertainment 4 stars
10/23/04 Fenstwhip Shiggins Worst pisser movie ever. Terrorist turns out to be avenging angel [read Devil actually].BS! 1 stars
9/26/04 Archanist_101 KIEFER SUTHERLAND fucking RULE_z !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/04/04 Stefan Halka What do you know - that hack Larry Cohen actually wrote a quality film. 4 stars
9/04/04 jeff good movie, dont like colin farrell thogh, thinks he is all that, kinda annoyin 4 stars
9/02/04 Daveman Brings nothing new to genre. Recommended only if you're REALLY bored. 2 stars
7/25/04 Pure RAGE... There should be a "Phone BOOTH: Re-DIAL" 5 stars
7/23/04 booklover Excellent storyline and production, but I would have liked it better with less profanity. 4 stars
5/16/04 Sean An excellent trio of characters, a frighteningly real premise, and superior dialogue. 5 stars
4/29/04 Sutherland Sutherland time wo,wo 5 stars
4/17/04 BaztarD_101 Kiefer Sutherland... WOW! 5 stars
4/10/04 jert yeah Farrel is good, nice tension and great black boobies!! 4 stars
4/07/04 Sig wow 5 stars
4/02/04 Geo78665 Good, but with this premise, it should've been ever better. 4 stars
3/26/04 pAY dAY great film 5 stars
3/24/04 SrM This movie rulz 5 stars
3/21/04 Keifer Sutherland_RULZ You know why I'm rating this... Sutherland RULES! 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern This really does deserve a sequeal or should be praised as a classic 5 stars
3/18/04 Umbrella Corporation. Keifer Sutherland's finest hour... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/17/04 PAYNE_KillerZ Morale vigilantes... FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/23/04 LIAM JACKSON Does for phone booths what Psycho did for showers. great film. 5 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Kiefer is great 4 stars
1/27/04 Dennis Himenez Manipulative, preposterous, morality play disguised as a thriller. 1 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Quite good - I have to admit, I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of it. 4 stars
1/02/04 A F It's quite a stretch. I'm not buying it. 2 stars
12/20/03 Littlepurch WICKED! Thought it would be boring but it was GR8!!! 5 stars
12/17/03 MIND OF A LUNATIC Superb 5 stars
11/27/03 TNT Too tiny personal story,the sniper has no reality. 1 stars
11/13/03 Mark Lyons I thought this was a totally hot movie omg 5 stars
10/11/03 Monster W. Kung Interesting concept and some good scenes, but implausibility and cliches bring it down. 3 stars
8/12/03 Nancy295 Riveting movie - never checked my watch - Colin is hot! 4 stars
8/07/03 dado excellent movie 5 stars
8/04/03 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KEITH SUTHERLAND'S VOICE RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/24/03 Double G Good plot, but the whole movie takes place in a phone booth but it keeps you watching 3 stars
7/24/03 Ingo Sure it's entertaining, but a little unidimensional... 4 stars
7/22/03 May Q. Horney You need a scumbag shooting at you for neglecting your spouse? I don't think so!!! 1 stars
7/16/03 anitanium best 5 stars
7/12/03 Joe COOL 5 stars
7/11/03 Troy Butler Very well done, ... at less than 90 minutes, keeps you entertained for the whole movie!!! 4 stars
7/06/03 Terrance Rogers It was good. The 2 funny parts is when he tried to steal the chips and when he p'd on hisse 5 stars
6/26/03 Laurian Diaconescu This shows how a decent movie can be done without giving priority to dumb special effects. 4 stars
6/22/03 John Bale Taut claustrophobic well acted thriller, with a strong ending. 4 stars
6/11/03 FLiK It was a great stand-off movie...Second only to Dog Day Afternoon 5 stars
6/05/03 Shadaan Felfeli bludy entertaining ! 4 stars
5/20/03 Kate Superb movie 5 stars
5/20/03 Nancy N. pretty silly, and farrell sounded like an Irishman trying to do a NY accent (oh, wait...) 2 stars
5/11/03 Jack Bourbon Wonder how they fill 2 hours with a guy in a phone booth? With a guy in a phone booth. 3 stars
5/10/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back, Mo'fos!!!) People, think past the trailer and see this excellent, enthralling movie! 5 stars
5/08/03 George Jung Poor Opening. Poor Ending. This is pure rental crap. 3 stars
5/03/03 Jackson62 Farrel is the star but Sutherland owns the movie. BEST MOVIE (so far) THIS YEAR! 5 stars
4/27/03 Oh no I'm so sorry I saw this movie 1 stars
4/26/03 michaelb14 Great Movie, Keifer Sutherland was creepy as hell as usual 5 stars
4/23/03 Andrew Carden Holmes Just Slows Things Down. Otherwise, A Fun Little Action Thriller. 4 stars
4/22/03 George Jung This is a film with something to say...homoeroticism is good. 2 stars
4/22/03 Eric Ruprecht It was Awesome 5 stars
4/22/03 C Henderson Oscar Worthy Performance 5 stars
4/20/03 Edler Reminded me of Speed. Pretty good, nothing amazing 4 stars
4/19/03 Titus This is how movies should be. 5 stars
4/19/03 David Deo Absolutely amazing movie that keeps your brain and your bum on the edge. 5 stars
4/18/03 Jin This is a film with something to say...so listen! 5 stars
4/17/03 654 PHAT 5 stars
4/16/03 Em Wow! Joel deserves top hounors 5 stars
4/13/03 poetchuck Interesting twists 4 stars
4/12/03 BSE Awesome 5 stars
4/12/03 kevron this movie was not all that entertaining, constant cliches got annoying. 3 stars
4/12/03 Siso The movie is well worth it...keeps you on the edge of your seat for all 80 mins of it. 5 stars
4/11/03 dill hole great 5 stars
4/11/03 Connie LOVED IT...Colin was the whole shooting match for me. 5 stars
4/11/03 Nancy Boy This booth was made 4 stalkin, that's just what I'll do, so TFB it's gonna be the end of u. 4 stars
4/09/03 Atanu Farrell is the most hyped incompetent actor after penelope cruz. yet just as annoying. 1 stars
4/09/03 Jiz Farrell did good, Sutherland ruled that shit, but the movie wasn't really anything special. 4 stars
4/08/03 Vince It was pretty good i guess. 4 stars
4/08/03 Rylz One of the best films in recent years 5 stars
4/07/03 bullit17 Schumacher is forgiven for killing Batman ... almost. Great performance by Farrell. 4 stars
4/06/03 Lin Rainey I love Colin Farrell and he can act. 5 stars
4/06/03 Collin Farrell I am ashamed at how this movie turned out... I apologize to all audience members. 1 stars
4/06/03 me agood film but not the best 4 stars
4/06/03 Angolmois Basically a one-man show, but Farrell can really act. Sutherland's voice acting is super... 4 stars
4/06/03 Annette Farrell and Sutherland are great. Until this move I didn't get the hype about Farrell. 4 stars
4/06/03 Not Retarded You must be a retard if you like this PIECE OF CRAP - worst movie of the year 1 stars
4/06/03 Large Farve White-nuckled it all the way through; Wow, what a great movie 5 stars
4/05/03 John Keating outstanding thriller 5 stars
4/05/03 Yo Mama! Wow, great movie! BTW - What happened the the FUCKING Awesome rating...I liked that better 5 stars
4/05/03 nick2k damn....hecka of a good movie! more katie wouldn't have KILLED you! i hate hookers. 5 stars
4/04/03 G Incredible. I could'n get off of my seat 5 stars
4/03/03 melanie wow 5 stars
4/02/03 Lin Rainey I could look at Colin Farrell all day long. He could read the phone book to me 4 stars
4/01/03 dill hole hot 5 stars
3/29/03 macxkle3 good movie; nail-biter 4 stars
3/26/03 joe its good and yes saying "tasty" does make one a flame.... 4 stars
3/19/03 David M Rosonowski Pretty good movie. I would recommend it to anyone. 4 stars
3/18/03 Kyle Fun movie. 4 stars
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  04-Apr-2003 (R)
  DVD: 01-Feb-2005



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