Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
Now, more than ever, the world needs a movie like "Urban Legend." We need to laugh and scream at celluloid crises until we're hoarse. I mean, I grew up believing (courtesy of an Italian grandmother) that if you ate canned peaches before you went to bed, you'd die. Ditto if you wore underwear to bed. It'd creep up to your neck in the middle of the night and strangle you till you'd die. Yeh, I grew up sort of weird, but who doesn't? The urban legends in Jamie Blanks' hip debut film scripted by newcomer Silvio Horta are of the "Hey, Kids, don't try these with your friends" variety. For example, you always look in the back seat of your car before you hop in, especially at night, don't you? And you would never dream of inviting an unseen online chat acquaintance to your dormitory room, especially at night, would you? And I'm not even going to start on frat house dogs at keg parties because "no animal was harmed during the making of 'Urban Legend.'" That's a relief.
The cast is terrific: Jared Leto, is even more gorgeous in Technicolor and Panavision than he was on the small screen as Jordan Catalano in "My So-Called Life." He's an edgy reporter named Paul here, determined to get to the bottom of things, namely the notoriously high body count on campus, all linked to urban legends. Alicia Witt (Zoey Woodbine on "Cybill") is Natalie, a pale redhead with a guilty conscience about what she did one night on the road with Natasha Gregson Wagner as Michelle Mancini. She also has an eerie knack of being in the vicinity when bodies start turning up. Rebecca Gayheart, who was Mrs. Dylan McKay for one episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" is Natalie's friend Brenda, who's nursing a crush on Paul. Michael Rosenbaum is Parker, a jerk, & Joshua Jackson (Paley on "Dawson's Creek") is Damon, another jerk. Tara Reid (Sasha) is the campus dee jay, with all sorts of helpful hints for sexually confused campus residents.
And there is John Neville as Dean Adams, who once played Sherlock Holmes in "A Study In Terror", but now is Dean Adams, an unimaginative administrator, much to the frustration of Loretta Devine as Reese, head of security, whose role model is Pam Grier as "Coffy". Robert Englund is the weird Professor Wexler, Julian Richings is the weird school janitor and Brad Dourif is the weird service station attendant. One of the best things about "Urban Legend" is it plays fair in its designation of the killer and I was impressed with the killer's performance, as well, who has specialized in playing wusses up to now. "Urban Legend" earns its chills and chuckles legitimately and should still be going strong in theatres well past Hallowe'en. Just don't smuggle Pop Rocks and Pepsi into the theatre: they're lethal!
© 1998 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 9/23/98
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