Movie Review
88 Minutes
88 Minutes poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published March 24, 2008
US Release: April 18, 2008

Directed by: Jon Avnet
Starring: Al Pacino , Alicia Witt , Leelee Sobieski , Amy Brenneman

R for disturbing violent content, brief nudity and language
Running Time: 107 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $16,930,884
C+
Despite being not-good, 88 Minutes is watchable and less than boring. It engaged me on a breezy level, especially in earlier scenes.
There's quite a few movies like this that come out every year. Low-impact, usually "thriller" type joints with one big star and a recognizable supporting cast. And Bill Forsythe always seems to be in there (yes, he's in this one too). In this case, the star is Al Pacino and the movie is 88 Minutes. It's an easily forgotten crime story where Pacino amazingly DOESN'T play a cop, even though he's holding a gun and looking cop-like on the posters. He actually plays a forensic psychiatrist who specializes in profiling serial killers. What a movie-like profession, eh? It turns out that the gig isn't so cute and cuddly for Al though, when he starts getting harassed by a psycho who caught the death penalty based on his expert testimony.

So that's one thing. There's actually no mystery at all as to the fact that Neal McDonough's very un-intimidating murderer is behind the whole anti-Pacino plot. It's spelled out from the beginning, and there's no twist whatsoever to that part of the story. And this leads to the central problem of the film, which is: total implausibility. Not usually a good thing in a mystery-suspense-thriller.
Looking back over the proceedings, you realize that none of the twists and turns could have been accomplished, especially being orchestrated by a guy behind bars. This story falls flat in exactly the places it can't afford to.

The bright side to this flick is that there's some real unforced humor, especially early on. In the beginning it walks the line between taking itself seriously and self-parody, only to lose this spirit by the 3/4 mark. If it would have kept this semi-lighthearted comedy vibe all the way through, it might have won me over. You don't often see traces of comedy in something with heavy
subject matter a la brutal serial killings, and this thing had a decent juxtaposition going on for a moment. But yes, it lost it in favor of standard chase/thriller fare. Too bad, bitches.

Pacino shoulders the load here mostly admirably, as the whole enchilada is obviously resting on him. He doesn't give a bad performance as many will probably say, just does his thing in a sub-par storyline. I enjoyed watching him on a basic level: his spray-paint tan, big hair, and constant cell-phone chattering are the stuff of crunchy cinema entertainment to me. It just never clicks up with all the fallacies swirling around him. He probably grinded his scenes out in a few weeks and moved on to his next Shakespearean/McConaugheyian bullshit.

Despite being not-good, 88 Minutes is definitely watchable and less than boring. It engaged me on a breezy level, especially in the earlier scenes. If you eat up crime-type stories, you might find it a halfway-okay way to pass the time until your next midnight snack or thunderous bowel movement. It's a TV-level popcorn movie with a driving score and lots of overhead shots of Al Pacino walking around Seattle. It's pretty bad, but you could do worse.
Scott's Grade: C+
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
A15.1%
B59.2%
C24.5%
D1.2%
F0.0%
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'88 Minutes' Articles
  • Craig's review D-
    April 19, 2008    88 Minutes is a movie of stunning badness. Itís still early but I would be surprised if I saw a worse movie this year. -- Craig Younkin
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