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A movie directed by Mike Nichols

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I told you those cigarettes would be the death of you

  • May 13, 2000
Pros: not a bad movie

Cons: sometimes a little slow

Just a bit to smug and full of himself, Henry Turner, defense attorney and general horses ass, never loses a case. In fact, his win to loss ratio is almost non-existent. He is crass, overbearing, rude - basically not a nice guy. He is an adulterer, an overbearing father, a bully to his co-workers and most other people he meets. You don't like him and you hope he falls flat on his face sometime soon and falls hard. You get your wish.

After another evening out on the town, receiving even more accolades and pats on the back, Henry and his wife Sarah return home - he discovers he is out of cigarettes and runs out to get a pack. Arriving at the deli in time to interrupt a robbery, Henry is shot in the head but survives. The end result, he is just a step away from vegetable land - his speech and motor skills lost and have to be learned all over again. What emerges is the total opposite of what went in - a puppy dog expression, lovable, kind, caring. Do we like Henry now? Hard to determine because we wonder if this is temporary or if this will be the new Henry.

Particularly poignant is a scene at the rehabilitation center between Henry and his therapist when he discovers the ‘spice' of adding hot sauce to his eggs. He becomes so dependant on the facility and his therapist, he is wont to leave, fearing he will not be able to survive without their help and intervention. Another is when Henry is first learning to talk and all he can keep repeating is Ritz - referring to the hotel where he used to cavort with his mistress. The therapists, however, believe he is referring to Ritz crackers and he carries a large picture of the cracker box around with him.

Viewing his life through new eyes, not aware of how he was in the past, he is often confused by the way people treat him, sometimes shying away before he speaks to them. Then often astounded by their reaction to his new self. Physically and emotionally he becomes a new person - one his family always wanted and dearly loves.

After a period of time, Henry decides to return to work even though he is no longer familiar with the practice of law or aware of the people he works with (one his former mistress who is quite surprised when he does not remember her). The firm, wanting to help the family by retaining him, virtually gives him his old cases to review, wherein he discovers just what a horses ass he had been all those years. He unearths a few cases where he had deliberately withheld evidence and tries to get the verdicts overturned, to no avail.

A couple of funny scenes - Sarah had ordered a huge dining table which Henry thinks looks like a large turtle (before accident) and insists she get rid of it - in his typical overbearing and rude manner. Due to the circumstances, she never gets the opportunity and when he returns home for the first time, as he passes the table he says "Nice table". Another scene, he sits in the library with Rachael as she studies for school, he is supposed to be learning how to read, but soon becomes bored. He starts shooting paperwads at her, invoking a reprimand from his daughter.

A few touching scenes between Sarah and Rachael as they discuss Henry and his eventual return and the effect it will have on their lives and between Sarah and Henry as they rediscover their love for each other. Finally, a nice mix of the old and new Henry as he now becomes a more loving father to his daughter.

At times I liked the old Henry - decisive and authoritative, but he was also a bit over powering. The new Henry seemed a little too simple minded and easily molded into someone else. Although Ford and Bening gave decent performances, the show was really pulled together and held by Mikki Allen and Bill Nunn. They both gave heart felt and warming performances. Otherwise, the show was a little slow at times and could have used a little help.

Starring Harrison Ford as Henry Turner; Annette Bening as Sarah Turner; Mikki Allen as Rachael; a wonderful Alda Linares as Rosella the maid and Bill Nunn as Bradley.


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


Henry Turner (Harrison Ford), a wealthy, high-powered, highly successful Manhattan lawyer, seems to have everything -- a perfect wife (Annette Bening), a perfect daughter, a perfect life. In fact, Henry is completely cold, rigid and unable to experience love or joy in his day-to- day existence. Everything changes, however, when Henry is gunned down in an act of random violence, and must undergo a slow, difficult recovery. In the process of relearning the most basic skills -- walking, reading, getting dressed in the morning -- Henry discovers something even more important: how to love his family and friends again and how to find true happiness in life.
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Cast: Mikki Allen
Director: Mike Nichols
Release Date: 1991
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Paramount Home Entertainment (March 10, 2009)
Runtime: 1hr 25min
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