March 6, 2006


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Basic Instinct 2 (R)
reviewed by Amy Diaz

Sharon Stone gives shallow, trend-chasing young women everywhere a horrifying glimpse of the future (bleach blonde is not a forever hair color) in the astoundingly awful Basic Instinct 2, a movie that makes Cruel Intentions 2 look like The Empire Strikes Back.

Stone has been in a lot of remarkably bad movies, Basic Instincts 1 and 2 only being the tip of the lousy iceberg. There have been action movies (Catwoman), horror films (Cold Creek Manor) and comedies (The Muse, which had some redeeming aspects but Stone wasn't one of them). Perhaps she needs to stop trying to run after box office and start looking for some meaty, quirky role on a cable drama ala Glenn Close on The Shield. (She does have a couple of episodes of Huff under her belt; perhaps she should start hanging out in Showtime's development office.) She definitely needs to stop running after some early 1990s idea of her sex appeal. At 48, Stone is no longer age-appropriate sexy. The mix of too-young trends and accessories that look trashy no matter your age creates a look best described as "desperate, thrice-divorced barfly." And then there's that Cher-like quality of plasticness to Stone's face"

Scary is the result of the too-short skirts and the too-tight face and scary is the best way to describe the film's preposterous, rap-video-like opening scene in which crime novelist Catherine Tramell is driving wildly through London with some lug of a young athlete who she maneuvers into, er, giving her a hand with things. Instead of ending their encounter with the traditional "I'll call you" she accidentally (or whatever) drives the car off a bridge and inadvertently (or whatever) drowns her "friend." If you watched the first movie, you know that Catherine has a very easy-come-easy-go approach to her sex buddies but is weirdly argumentative and confrontational when the cops dare ask her about why she didn't help her special friend get out of the sinking sports car.

Because the London police have no evidence of her being guilty of anything more than bitchery and poor fashion sense, they send in psychologist Michael Glass (David Morrissey). He asks her questions that seem perfectly normal what-does-this-ink-blot-look-like psychologist questions and she responds with weird challenges wherein she tries to ferret out if he's divorced and what his love life is like. After she is released (of course she's released) she goes to him to become his client and he agrees, even though he finds himself attracted to her aggressive come-ons and her tarty tales of sexual adventures.

The movie wants to be a psychological thriller and lets us know by frequently using the word "psychological," talking about risk addiction and frequently shooting extreme close-ups of the actors' faces. (Still not convinced? The movie gives us some "dun dun DUN" minor-key music to accentuate the "thriller" and the "psychological" moments.) There is, of course, no psychological puzzle - no real thrills either - only a slow, jerky wooden carnie roller coaster that runs out of juice long before the end of the ride.

The plot - which bloats to include an unfaithful wife, professional jealousies and advancement, a journalist and his scandalous story and, of course, Catherine and another one of her damn books - doesn't attempt to build any suspense in its story nor does it try to make the dialogue terribly exciting. The movie has exactly one trick that it uses over and over - Stone's body and the different parts of her it can show sans clothes. We get leg shots (as she lies on a sofa or straddles a chair), we get cleavage, we eventually get boobs. But each of these is presented with a maximum amount of ick - with the light picking up every skin spot, every hint of a wrinkle, every unnatural body shape (Stone's boobs are just baffling in their alien, dome shape). We aren't tantalized, we're disturbed.

The movie (well, not this movie but some movie about a 48-year-old sexpot) could have shown an older woman whose sexiness hadn't diminished with age. Instead, Basic Instinct 2, by not giving us a single other thing to focus on, gives us plenty of time to ponder how the twentysomething idea of what is sexy (already starting to look worn on Stone in 1992) really does not age well at all. F

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