Get Carter (2000)
Warner Bros. // R // $19.98 // February 13, 2001
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 13, 2001
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I've been writing reviews for a hair over a year now, and with that experience comes the sense of being able to read my audience from afar. No, I'm disappointed to say that "Get Carter" has nothing to do with young Aaron Carter or his hit song "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)". The stylin' monochromatic picture of Sly Stallone gracing the patented Warner snapper case probably is enough of an indication, but I feel an obligation to inform my loyal readers that those looking for Aaron classics like "The Clapping Song" ought to set their sights elsewhere.

First of all, I guess I should mention that my grammar-obsessed mother had a particularly large influence on my life, and reading the plot summary on the back of the case nearly sent me into a fit. Sure, I occassionally (by that, I mean 'frequently') slip, but the description on "Get Carter" has two awful sentence fragments. Come on, Warner -- use a comma. Make the world a better place. Since I'm sure none of you have any idea what the hell I'm going on about, I'll just ramble on about the movie.

I admittedly picked up "Get Carter" solely because the lovely Rachael Leigh Cook is in it, making this the fifth DVD I own featuring her in some capacity and the sixth I've seen. Rachael's less than glamorous supporting role thankfully involves no love scenes with Sly Stallone or (shudder) Mickey Roarke. Nope, Ms. Cook plays Doreen, the niece of Jack Carter, Sly's Italian tough guy du jour. Jack traipsed off to Vegas for an illustrious career as one of those arm-breakers so often referenced in cinema, leaving his brother Richard, niece, and sister-in-law Gloria (Miranda Richardson) behind in Seattle without the faintest idea as to where he went or what he's doing. A few years pass, and ol' Dick winds up dead, apparently due to a drunk driving accident. Out of the blue, Jack returns and, in true Jean Claude Van Damme-style, begins hunting for his brother's killers. He runs into none-too-embarassed original "Get Carter" star Michael Caine, his old sparring partner Cyrus Paice (interesting name), and Greg Kinnear, who apparently became a billionaire software mogul after leaving "Talk Soup" and doing Eagle Talon ads. In any event, yeah, Carter goes around as people try to "get" him, knockdown dragout fights follow, wackiness ensues -- you know the drill.

This remake of 1971's "Get Carter" was critically panned when it was released theatrically last October. I didn't find it to be as bad as most, apparently -- the last 45 minutes make the movie, but to have to sit through the sluggish first hour almost isn't worth it. For too long, none of the cast inspire sympathy or interest of any sort, Carter continually revisits characters in virtually identical scenes, and the talent-black hole that is Mickey Roarke manages to wholly suck away what minimal pleasure there is to be had. The first 60% of the film seems like a rough draft, deeply in need of tightening and extensive retooling of dialogue. Mickey Roarke and Alan Cumming have one-note, boring roles and can't even seem to get those down-pat, every line and gesture seeming forced and unnatural. I enjoyed "Get Carter" enough that I don't regret taking the time to watch it, but I'm pretty sure I would've enjoyed the film considerably more if a couple additional months had been spent in pre-production getting things right.

Video/Audio: The Super 35-tastic "Get Carter" is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and, as is to be expected from a new Warner release, is enhanced for widescreen televisions. Another impressive transfer from Warner, the image of "Get Carter" is extremely crisp and detailed. I found myself replaying the funeral scenes and golf bits again just to get another peek. I don't see anything to gripe about. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is similarly spiffy, particularly the score. Actually, the score, notably the remix of the '71 theme, was what stood out most by far. In accordance with the less-than-bombastic nature of the film, surrounds are used subtly though to better effect. This is a strong effort from Warner all around.

Supplements: The feature-length commentary with director Stephen Kay is about as slow as the first half of the film itself. Presumably Kay's first time in th' commentary booth, he apparently went in without any notes or previous preparation. There are numerous long pauses as we wait for Kay to see something on-screen that jars forth some sort of memory. This isn't the sort of commentary to pull out to watch with friends, but it's decent background noise while working. Kay's Michael Caine impression and occassionally mock-menacing tone kept things moderately interesting. A series of deleted scenes, mostly extended versions of what made it in the final cut, are also included in non-anamorphic widescreen. Among these is an alternate ending, although really, it's just the regular ending in a different setting, and oh, what a difference talking face-to-face can make. Two trailers -- one for the original and one for the remake -- are presented in anamorphic widescreen, and finally, there are the traditional cast/crew bios, which I don't even bother looking at any longer.

Conclusion: I'm not one to really go for action flicks, and "Get Carter" did nothing to change my mind. Bruce Willis' and Arnie's action ventures over the past decade have been really over the top, leaving "Get Carter" seeming far too subdued and limited in scale by comparison. I didn't find "Get Carter" to be the unbearable experience critics made it out to be, nor was I particularly impressed. At a rather low retail price, if you feel the need to "Get Carter" (obligatory and blatantly obvious pun), you might as well buy it rather than rent it. "Get Carter" falls recommendation-wise somewhere in that gray area between "Rent It" and "Recommended", but given its flaws, I think I'll sleep a little better tonight if I knock it down to Rent It.


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