April 30, 2009

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Obsessed (PG-13)
Ali Larter flirts Fatal Attraction-style with Idris Elba in Obsessed, a giddily exploitative movie that really gets going in its final half-hour or so.

SPOILER ALERT — (though all of this is pretty heavily suggested in the movie’s trailers) but after spending an hour and something building up the creepy relationship between faithful family man Derek (Elba, the recently deposed branch manager on The Office) and attack-seducer Lisa (Larter), a temp who latches on to the idea that a relationship between Derek and herself is inevitable, the actual movie begins with a segment I think of as Beyoncé Kicks Ass. It starts with the scene you may have seen in the trailers when Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), Derek’s wife, calls Lisa and leaves a message to the effect that “you think you’re crazy; I’ll show you crazy.” Lisa later shows up at their house for a romantic liaison with Derek, and Sharon proceeds to give Lisa a tour of the home — giving Lisa a really good look at the floor, the wall, some railings on their stairs. I know you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater but are you allowed to yell “girlfight” in one with a handful of other movie-goers?

The pre-”Beyonce Kicks Ass” part of the movie isn’t bad. Derek does do a bit of casual flirting with Lisa when they first meet and then fails to see the warning signs of her being a little too interested (or sees them but thinks nothing will come of it and enjoys it a bit). When she finally does make a move, he’s firm about not being interested but she ignores his rejection, eventually giving him roofies and sneaking in to his hotel room on a business trip.

Parts of how Derek and others handle the situation are improbable, though for this kind of movie improbability isn’t a killer. What does make this movie less of a junk-food-ish guilty pleasure is that it doesn’t really have the kind of crazy energy and maniacal cheesiness you’d expect until it fully unleashes Beyoncé, and by then we’re already entering the last lap. Once Ms. Knowles is in control of the screen time, the movie is goofy silly fun — this isn’t a movie for showing off one’s acting chops; it’s all about chewing the scenery. But the movie doesn’t get us there soon enough. We spend too long plodding through Derek’s fumblings with whether or not he should go to human resources.

If movie theaters allowed you to fast forward straight to the Beyonce ass-kicking, Obsessed might be worth heading to the cinema for. But, since you can’t, there’s always Netflix. C-

Rated PG-13 for sexual material including some suggestive dialogue, some violence and thematic content. Directed by Steve Shill and written by David Loughery, Obsessed is an hour and 45 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Sony Pictures.