Lady J reviews The Langoliers

The Langoliersaka Stephen King’s The Langoliers
180 min., 1995
Written by Tom Holland/Stephen King
Directed by Tom Holland
Language: English
My rating: ★

Don’t be ri-dik-cu-looss…

* * *

Synopsis:

After the mysterious disappearance of most of the passengers on a flight to Boston, the remaining passengers are left trying to figure out what happened before their time runs out and they succumb to the same fate.

Review:

Well, here we go. I suppose I understand far too well now why this site is called “Forced Viewing”  because this movie was worse than choking down week old stale cornbread
after crossing a long, dry desert then chasing it with used motor oil. I could not stand to pay close enough attention to the story to give you all a play by play and ultimately you wouldn’t want to be tortured reading that anyway. So pay attention kiddies and I will save you from wasting your time and brain  cells on this craptastic excuse for a film.

The story begins by giving us a tiny snapshot view into each character’s life before they board the plane. The sad part about this is that usually when the effort is made to show something of the character before the real problems begin is that you are supposed to start to develop a kinship or dislike for the characters. In only two cases from all the introductions is the attempt to elicit an emotional response successful. The first attempt is a strange exchange between a man named Craig Toomey and some office lackey chasing behind him outside the airport. The obviously nervous nerd type is advising Mr. Toomey that not only did he lose a huge sum of money but that the board of directors in Boston will tear him apart if he shows his face at their meeting. Mr. Toomey replies in that oh-so-cocky manner that it’ll be fine.

Now why am I singling out this scene, you might be wondering? Well Craig Toomey is played by Bronson Pinchot. While the name may not sound familiar, one of his most memorable characters was Balki Bartokomous from the late 80’s/early 90’s TV show called Perfect Strangers. He has a long list of minor roles to his credit and based off this performance I can see why this man never made it to the big leagues. His acting is one of the main reasons this movie is painful to watch. It is plain to see that his character is meant to be a overly cocky businessman that has done something terrible. Yet the emotional reaction I had to him was not mainly from his misbehavior as a businessman, it is from Pinchot’s portrayal of his character. Throughout the entirety of his presence in this film, he is loud, overbearing, pushy, and obnoxious to a degree that would make even the King of Overacting Jim Carrey shake his head in disbelief. To sum it up, his acting is like a brobdingnagian pile of camel shit after a rain storm, it stinks to high heaven and the runny spillover poisoned the rest of the film. (Yes, I am aware that using “brobdingnagian” instead of “big” was far beyond overkill, but so was his acting.)

What makes it worse yet is that this character seems to have a personal knowledge of what may be the cause of the unfortunate circumstances the passengers have found themselves in which makes him an important piece to the puzzle. We just can’t seem to get away from this asshole. The second character to illicit an emotional reaction was the pilot, Captain Brian Engle, played by David Morse. In his snapshot, he is pulled from his next flight and told that his ex-wife has died in a fire. He is directed to the Boston flight so that he can get home to make arrangements for her. Now David Morse is no stranger to either the stage or the silver screen. For a man to have just been told that a woman he once loved is now dead and the feelings of loss, remorse, and regret that should be accompanying said news don’t play on his face. He doesn’t make that moment feel believable, at least to me, and the reaction I had to his character was disappointment. I think the reaction the writer might have been looking for was sympathy. I didn’t buy the moment since there was no emotional steak that I could bite into. Since these are the only two characters that earned a response from me at all, I am already sensing the rest of the film will be missing the emotional cues we need to invest in this story.

Add to this potent mix of runny camel shit and bad emotional cues the fact that the remaining actors were so mediocre as not to be worth mentioning. The blind child (who seems to know when something is not right before everyone else) is played by Kate Maberly who goes on to do great things in the movie The Secret Garden. However, in this film she isn’t even shooting from the hip as most child actors do. She just isn’t interesting at all. Even when she explains what the purpose of her flight is and how scared she is now that her traveling companion has vanished isn’t enough to make me care about her character. The mystery writer aboard this flight is played by Dean Stockwell, whom you may remember from the TV series Quantum Leap. His character is constantly making remarks about how nothing is as it seems and that anyone’s assessment of things being normal is way off base. The problem with this is that it’s already clear that things have gone haywire and his commentary isn’t helping the plot. In fact, I found myself wishing he would just keep those comments to himself since they weren’t providing any comic relief, serving as plot points, or serving any other appreciable value. I am disappointed in his performance because he comes across not as cunning, intelligent problem solving sleuth but rather as a strange, paranoid, failed conspiracy theorist.

So, what are the Langoliers? I would strongly suggest if you want a real answer to that question that you pick up a copy of the novel by Steven King to get your answer. The movie explanation really makes no sense to me, but I will share it with you anyway. In a flashback scene, Mr. Toomey is being thoroughly reprimanded by his father for getting an “A-” and a “B” on his report card. When asked what happens to lazy boys that get poor grades a young Craig replies that the Langoliers get them. The father goes on to explain that they tear into them with their “dry, hungry, chomping teeth” and that “they will eat you alive and screaming” for wasting time. Fast forward (which I did a lot of because this stupid movie has the nerve to be well over 2 and a half hours long) and the remaining  survivors aboard the plane are watching as the Langoliers are eating everything in their path. The mystery writer says that now they knew what happens to today when it becomes yesterday and that these creatures were the masters of time disposing of time lost by eating it. Now, after all the hoopla over these things I have to admit I was  so underwhelmed by their appearance the very first time I saw them I fell out of my seat laughing.

They looked like flying brown boogers with poorly executed CGI razor teeth. After much back thought, I decided I have to give this film a skull. We all would like to know what happens to the time is now the past, however a good idea does not make up for a poorly conceived and executed script. I have not read the book, but I doubt the source material was so terrible that it warranted such an awful adaptation. I have to say that for whomever wrote this screen play it was a brobdingnagian mistake. The only thing that made this film ultimately satisfying was the fact that Mr. Toomey (after several attempted murders and one actual murder) gets eaten alive by the Langoliers screaming the whole time, just as his father predicted all those years ago. I, for one, am glad because it put an end to his terrible acting!!! You will be happy to know there are no sequels or remakes for this epic Cleveland steamer so this will be the last you hear of it. But it isn’t the last you will hear from me!

Til next time ladiez and gentz.

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2 Responses to Lady J reviews The Langoliers

  1. Olivia says:

    Kate Maberley didn’t “go on” to do “The Secret Garden.” She had already done it before doing the Langoliers. I haven’t seen it but hopefully she did a better acting job in that than she did in “The Langoliers.” And the highlight of the “The Langoliers” wasn’t Toomey’s death. It was the death of Dinah, the blind girl played by Maberly. She wins my vote for most annoying character and worst acting job out of all those in “The Langoliers”. Given the idiotic dialog and hideous directing and editing, that’s saying something! I actually cheered when she was stabbed, not realizing that she would suddenly, out of nowhere, have psychic powers and we would be forced to suffer through yet more of her dreadful acting.

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