February 1926, 1998
The Gingerbread Man
On paper, the combination of the profitable but increasingly tedious John Grisham industry, the respectably funky Robert Altman and the talented, narcissistic Kenneth Branagh must have looked splendid. The actual film is uneven, often predictable and occasionally strange, with Altman's signature jump-and-start camerawork making the regular street and bar scenes look more interesting than they might have been otherwise. Branagh's Savannah, GA, lawyer is extra-smarmy, drinking, sleeping with clients, and abusing the good will of his associates (private dick Robert Downey Jr. and lawyer Daryl Hannah). When he takes the case of his latest one-nighter, a waitress (Embeth Davidtz) who's being stalked by her religious-cult-leader dad (Robert Duvall), the case leads to Branagh's young children being kidnapped, which allows him to go righteously ballistic. The expected chaos ensues, with the lawyer by turns incompetent and charismatic, never quite on top of anything that's going on.