U Turn (1997)
(Release Date: August 27, 1997 [Telluride Film Festival])
(Theatrical Release Date: October 3, 1997)

3.5 Stars... AND J. Lo. gets NAKED!3.5 Stars... AND J. Lo. gets NAKED!3.5 Stars... AND J. Lo. gets NAKED!1/2

A surreal nightmare, more cool than deep!

J.C. Mašek III... 

Bootay Fan!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

After Anaconda, in all its Brilliance and Majesty, fans the globe over have been demanding, practically begging, for a re-teaming of Jennifer Lopez and Jon Voight. There have been marches in Washington and Whoreywood, not to mention congressional hearings during which Ted Kennedy himself proposed a bill with Tom Delay in a rare bipartisan show of motion picture support stating that an Anaconda sequel must be made. The House and Senate both unanimously approved this bill and it became law eliminating the need for a Constitutional Amendment. While it's a fact that the Legislature took this very seriously, it's also true that the Legislature still moves slower than a Giant Land Turtle on Barbiturates, and the follow up to Anaconda was not to be until 2004's brilliantly titled Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid! Unfortunately, the sequel, by this time, bore little resemblance to the original and featured neither J. Lo. (as she's now known) or Angelina Jolie's daddy! Fortunately, as a Stop Gap measure, and to defend the nation against the mob-rule attitudes of the American People who have the fake-snake movie on DVD, J. Lo. and J. Vo. teamed up once again to make Oliver Stone's U Turn, luckily for us all, in the same year as Anaconda so no one had to die!

There are a few facts that those of you who marched on Washington for the Lo.-Vo. team should know before you attempt to stuff the rented VHS of U Turn into your Beta machine.

  1. Jennifer Lopez and Jon Voight share no screen time!
  2. Jon Voight is nearly unrecognizable!
  3. This is actually more of a Sean Penn vehicle!
  4. But it still counts because they are in the same movie and...

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U TURN ME ON! Man, look how delicious she looks!

It probably all boils down to Director Oliver Stone's sense of humor. "Gotcha!" he said as we all filed into the theatres hoping for a poorly animated computer-snake and Voight's bad accent. That said, U Turn is a cool little film packed with great one-liners and killer cameos with some cooler-than-you-are camera tricks, ear-pleasing music and Pepsi-Fun imagery! On the other hand, when you take away these extras the plot is pretty Barney-simplistic. There's no second act, really, and the whole ending never seems to want to give up the ghost. It's quotable as a Mike Nelson speech, but it's also as realistic as Welcome to Pooh Corner!

Sean Penn is career criminal Bobby Cooper, a desperate Jackass about as affable as Newt Gingrich after sitting on a tack. While on a trip to Vegas through the Arizona Desert, Bobby is forced to make a U Turn by a busted Radiator Hose. He ends up dealing with the only mechanic in town, a Deliverance-reject named Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton) who has no great sympathy for Bobby's sixty-four-and-a-half Mustang convertible.

Enter Grace McKenna, the home-town hottie with a hidden agenda and a mile of booty trailing behind her. Naturally, Bobby realizes right away that she looks just like Jennifer Lopez, and that he does indeed need to get him some of that. Sadly, Grace's hubby Jake (Nick Nolte) is none too warm to the idea.

What follows is an ultra-cool, yet ultimately flat account of how many crappy things can happen to Bobby, one after another. Whether being hit on by Claire Danes or beat on by Joaquin Phoenix; whether facing dual proposals for murder, or being escorted to the border by the town Sheriff Powers Boothe; whether having his cash shredded (no car repairs are free), or facing off with a blind psychopath (old J. Vo.), this is pretty much a bad, bad day for old Bobby-o!

The problem with this movie is that it probably made a much better book. John Ridley adapted this blended screenplay from his Desert Psychadelia book Stray Dogs, and I guess they put their faith in star-director Oliver Stone. The issue is, though, that capturing textual psychadelia on film isn't an easy task, and far too often, Stone seems to be focusing his energies on being "cool" rather than telling a good story. The story's there, but it doesn't exactly fill up a full 125 minutes all its own.

The feelings we feel for Penn's character range from dislike to sympathy to pathos to bathos to absolute boredom. Sure it's sad when every bad thing falls upon him, sure it's funny how many bad things keep happening, but after a while, it's just there, and you don't feel a damned thing!

Aside from the stars of this film we're treated to a number of noteworthy cameos. Blink and you'll miss big Abraham Benrubi as a gun-toting theif! Claire Danes is always good, but here she plays a hilarious Trailer-Trash hussy named Jenny! It's also nice to see Joaquin Phoenix working, but it's not the intelligent and introspective Phoenix of Signs and Gladiator but the over the top, silly Phoenix that shows up here as "TNT"! It keeps getting weirder as both Laurie Metcalf and Liv Tyler pop up just long enough to make you say, "Hey was that Laurie Metcalf and Liv Tyler?" Even Airplane's Julie Hagerty shows up to say the F-Word.

It's a fun little weird movie, all right, and you can't say that it's like much you've ever seen before... Plus, you've got to toast any Jennifer Lopez Nude Scene! However, after a time, this film outdoes itself in predictability, and simply doesn't know where to end. There's a distinct sense that Oliver Stone really loved this movie... maybe to the point of belaboring the end credits by a good ten minutes. You'll probably like the movie, and you'll probably never forget it... but you also probably won't try nominating it for the AFI top 100!

Three and One Half Stars out of Five for U Turn, and that's not bad. It's a fun and psychedelic little desert movie with great quotes and cool, cool, cool imagery. The only thing missing is Kyuss on the soundtrack.

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U Turn (1997) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is alone responsible for his reviews
and his view on Jennifer Lopez' yummies!
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No comment on Angelina's Daddy sharing screen time with his erstwhile son-in-law, Billy-Bob! I still can't believe it myself!

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