"On Your Best Phoniest Behavior"
Gun Shy
Review by Ross Anthony

A wonderful lead in sequence: the camera dollies merrily through a New York airport, working it's way into the men's room where a spooked plumber overhears a neurotic, dangerous-sounding Liam Neeson ramble to himself about life and death as he's sprawled on the cold tile floor of the handicapped stall. The wide-eyed plumber tiptoes out to safety as Neeson's flashbacks of a drug bust gone awry bring us up to speed. These flashbacks are produced beautifully and artistically. They're a ballet of bullets and bodies, blended with a marble-rich mix of humor, fear and hallucination. Bravo.

Though the overall concept is similar to last year's "Analyze This" where De Niro plays the softening Mafia thug and Billy Crystal, his tagalong psychiatrist; "Gun Shy" is not redundant. Both movies are strong, funny and unique in their own ways. Here, Neeson is the tough undercover cop nearly crippled with fear over a near death experience during his last bust. But instead of Neeson coupling with a single shrink, that role is split between three other parties: four fellows in group therapy, Sandra Bullock as the puppy-love interest, and even Oliver Platt as the "I'm sick of being a cliché!" Italian thug.

In enlighteningly striking contrast to the other clients' petty grievances of the day, Neeson offers his, "You're doing your best to bring in the bad guys, the next thing you know, you're laying naked on a table full of rotting fruit with an oozy up your @#$."

Neeson continues his undercover gig as the money savvy conduit between Mafia thug (Platt) and drug dealer (Jose Zuniga). Andy Lauer's happy-go-lucky performance as the yuppie financial investor lends a contrasting and funny element to the quiet tough guy cast. Loosening up with Lauer's party-oriented hosting, Zuniga admits, "You know, it's sometimes a pain keeping up this Colombian Coke dealer stereotype - I never get to have any fun!"

During a medical visit intended to relieve stress, Neeson stumbles across Bullock. Later, when talking about her in group therapy he's asked, "How'd you meet her? Did you score?" Neeson replies, "She gave me an enema." A group guy conjectures, "I guess that's kinda like scoring?"

An over the shoulder shot of Bullock is surprisingly out of focus, and uncharacteristically shoddy scripting make her initial scenes with Neeson a little hard to digest. We feel rather rushed by the filmmakers to get her into the story swiftly. Still, these blemishes along with a few other highly implausibles seem minor and just don't slow this strong, fun production. It's clearly a good time with a good heart. Go see it.

  • Gun Shy. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt, Jose Zuniga, Michael Delorenzo, Andy Lauer, Sandra Bullock.
  • Written and Directed by Eric Blakeney.
  • Produced by Sandra Bullock at Buena Vista/Fortis Films/Meat Hook.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:10:19 PDT