Conventional wisdom in Hollywood seems to run something' like this: when a movie dies at the box office, it's the star's fault. No matter how mechanical the direction, no matter how lifeless the script, a true star should be able to drag unsuspecting audiences into theatres and keep them there until the flick makes $l00 million. David Caruso and Denzel Washington (who are already considered not true movie stars) are being blamed for the listless returns on their last two efforts in spite of the fact that those wretched projects were doomed from the rolling of the credits. Brad Pitt is receiving more credit than he deserves for "Seven" when it is Morgan Freeman's Oscar-worthy performance, Kevin Spacey's over-the-top emoting plus an absorbing script & assured direction that make "Seven" the tightly~coi1ed chiller that it is.
Anyway, someone over at Warner Bros. got the bright idea to star two world class actresses like Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter in yet another serial killer movie, set in San Francisco. Toss in Harry Connick, Jr. and baby-faced William (son of Robert S.) McNamara as the serial killers, add Dermot Mulroney and Will Patton as Hunter's distinguished colleagues and voila! Box office gold, right? Well, maybe. -But if it happens, it's going to be in spite of, not because of the creative ingredients of "Copycat". Sigourney Weaver is supposed to be a 'brilliant' forensic psychologist, but she still winds up hanging from a rope over a toilet, not once but twice, courtesy of two different serial killers. Anyone have a problem with that? The screenwriters didn't.
Holly Hunter is a feisty 'intelligent' detective, but she, makes strategic choices that only the screenwriters can understand. And, bless their hearts, the writers know San Francisco so well: they realise, for example, that the City is exactly the same as it was during the Summer of Love and only the investigative team lives in 1995. There is, in fact, so MUCH cribbing and cobbling going on here from other movies and other cases that it's redundant even to begin to think about making a list since the filmmakers have covered themselves so well with that title.
If half the bucks that are spent exploiting serial killers on the big screen were spent on identification and prevention, maybe we wouldn't need to see psychosis glorified in this way. As it is, "Copycat" does a disservice to men and women alike. But I fully expect to read something in the trades about Weaver and Hunter being fine for art house films like "Death and the Maiden" and "The Piano", but leave the crime thrillers to the pretty boys next time around, please. "Copycat" opens nationally' this week.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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