The Gift (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Gift is one of those Stir of Echoes, solve the crime through psychic powers, things.

I don't know why the film didn't do better at the box office. It isn't a great film, but it is directed well, acted well by marketable names, and features one actress with great talent (Cate Blanchett), and another actress with two great talents (Katie Holmes)

Cate Blanchett plays some kind of a white trash, welfare-collectin' bayou mama who supports herself by readin' Tarot Cards, droppin' her g's, and workin' her own at-home version of a psychic hotline. She's currently moseyin' around with a passel of guilt because she had a psychic vision of her husband dyin', but couldn't convince him to do something about it. Wait a minute. If she saw a vision of her husband's death and he didn't die, then she's not really a psychic, is she? So what the hell can she do about it? A lot of us have daydreams, but it's only when they come true that you qualify for Psychic School.

Anyway, it happens that them thar' po-lice are stumped on a case, and Dionne Warwick's line was busy, so they asked Cate to help out. Wellsir, ol' Katie Holmes is missin' or dead or somethin' and this is a small Southern Movie town, so every single person in town is both capable of murder and well armed. Not to mention psychotic and seriously inbred.


Katie Holmes is seen topless in five different set-ups

1. When her body is dragged from the lake

2. In a sudden flashback, as she falls to the ground.

3. In a dissolve, in which Katie in underpants is melted into Cate Blanchett's eyes.

4. Arguing with Kinnear, face to face

5. Kinnear shoves her on the car after she puts her shirt on. her breasts pop out again.

Is it the wife-beatin' violent psycho (Keanu Reeves. Whoa!), or the papa-hatin' violent psycho (Giovanni Ribisi, no surprise there), the DA who was havin' an affair with the victim, the jealous wife of one of the psychos, or one of the other slow-talkin' third grade educated people in the town, all of whom seem like the type to enjoy carnal relationships with barnyard animals and the recently deceased?

Hard to say.

The problem is that Cate doesn't see full answers in her psychic visions, just snippets of things which may be in the past, present, or future, like the guy in The Dead Zone. So she gives them generic answers like "I see a pick-up truck, some guys fishin' for catfish, some Bar-B-Q, and some longneck beers", which pretty much means that it could be anybody over the age of five in a small Southern town.  Then she sends them off to dredge the pond. 

Hell, in a small southern town, dredging the pond is always a good bet. Here in Texas, when our ponds start to go short on bass and dead bodies, we re-stock 'em artificially. 

That kind of psychic reading, I can do. Come and tell me there's a murdered hockey player and I say "I hear 'Oh, Canada', I see some ice, some Molson's, a Zamboni, and some guys with bad teeth", and send the sheriff off to check out the leads and dredge the rink.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1. 

  • disappointingly few features - a brief making-of piece and a rock video - that's it 


Anyway they arrest one of the psychos based on her vision, but then she keeps havin' those movie montage visions with repeatin' phrases, like the psycho's wife sayin' "the ol' slut deserved to die, just a-fuckin' mah man", and every other person in the plot sayin' somethin' 'bout how they wanted to see ol' Katie dead.

In fact, only one guy in town didn't want her dead. Needless to say, he's the one that killed her.

Anyway, it's not a bad flick. The script is predictable and especially cliché-ridden, but that's partially balanced off by competent direction, a really good cast headed by Cate Blanchett, and Katie Holmes's breasts.

Did I mention Katie Holmes's breasts? The first shot of Katie's redoubtable hooters comes 00:01:06 into the film - before the credits! Now that's entertainment. Not to mention the director's accurate assessment of a valuable asset.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Maltin 2.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Ebert 3/4, Apollo 81

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 68% positive overall, and 67% from the top critics. (As well-reviewed as Chocolat, which was nominated for the "best picture" Oscar)

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.8, Apollo users 80/100.
  • With their dollars ... although it performed in the range of weak/moderate at the box office, with only $12 million gross compared to a $10 million budget, it's expected to become a hit on home video. Guess why? Two reasons, both attached to Katie. It did better in England with about six million dollars gross (roughly equal to a thirty million US gross, given the population difference)
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+, except for Katie's breasts, which score an A. Of course, given a solid genre film and Katie's breasts, I reckon you'll want to see it if you have a normal testosterone level. Tuna says "I award B-, agreeing with Ebert and Berardinelli. The film works as a thriller, Sci Fi, and character driven drama."

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