The Gingerbread Man

Savannah boosters who hated MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL for casting their beloved city in a poor light should probably avoid this legal thriller, which pictures it crawling with corrupt cops, backwoods psychos, lushes with guns and of course, sleazy lawyers. Ignoring clear signs that she's a loon, slick attorney Rick Magruder (Kenneth Branagh)...read more

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Savannah boosters who hated MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL for casting their beloved city in a poor light should probably avoid this legal thriller, which pictures it crawling with corrupt cops, backwoods psychos, lushes with guns and of course,

sleazy lawyers. Ignoring clear signs that she's a loon, slick attorney Rick Magruder (Kenneth Branagh) plunges into a reckless affair with witchy waif Mallroy Doss (Embeth Davidtz), who's apparently being stalked by her freaky fundamentalist father (Robert Duvall). Soon her car is firebombed in

front of Magruder's place and he starts getting scary mail, including a snapshot of his children with their faces burned out. It doesn't take a genius to see a set up in the making, though the particulars of the plan are preposterous even by pulp standards -- best-selling novelist John Grisham

(the screenplay was originally ballyhooed as his first original script, though he's now credited only for the story) has never been one for narrative subtlety. It doesn't look as though director Robert Altman concerned himself much with plot particulars either, but between Magruder's oily

schmoozing and the camera-ready combo of Spanish moss and constant rain, he and cinematographer Changwei Gu whip up some amazing atmosphere. Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as alcoholic private eye Clyde Pell is hugely entertaining, and Daryl Hannah -- hidden under glasses and drab red hair --

acquits herself surprisingly well as lawyer Lois Harlan. Originally scheduled for release in October, this picture sparked ugly wrangling between Altman and PolyGram studio heads -- who recut it, then went back to Altman's version when theirs tested badly -- and was postponed from early October to

January, traditionally the graveyard of movies nobody knows what to do with.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Savannah boosters who hated MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL for casting their beloved city in a poor light should probably avoid this legal thriller, which pictures it crawling with corrupt cops, backwoods psychos, lushes with guns and of course,… (more)

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