Chasing the Bear

[Amazon Link]

How big a Robert B. Parker fanboy am I? Well, even though this is a Young Adult (12 and up) novel, it says "A Young Spenser Novel" right there on the jacket, so… I hit the "Two-Day 1-Click®" button before I knew what I was doing.

Even at 176 pages, it's a quick read. It's framed around the contemporary Spenser and his beloved Susan Silverman in the Boston Public Garden, talking about his days as a young 'un out there in Wyoming. (The story breaks every so often so Spenser and Susan can do their usual psychobabble about Spenser's character; I don't know why they bother, because Susan hasn't had an original thought about Spenser for at least the last twenty years or so.)

But the story itself is pretty good. Spenser's mom died at his birth; his upbringing is shaped by his father and his mother's two brothers, an untraditional but effective child-rearing team. Young Spenser's adventures involve confronting a bear in the woods; rescuing a damsel from her abduction by her abusive father; and bodyguarding a Mexican kid from a bunch of bigoted bullies. All purporting to show how he came to be his current menschy self.

No real detecting involved, low on Spenserian wit, and I'm not sure I can recommend it to anyone besides diehard Spenser freaks. I enjoyed it, though.

Last Modified 2012-10-07 7:57 AM EST

Righteous Kill

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Dismal reviews, but I queued it up at Netflix for reasons that I've long since forgotten. Still… Robert De Niro! Al Pacino! How can you go wrong?

I should have noticed that Jon Avnet was directing. He previously made 88 Minutes, which also starred Al Pacino, which also sucked me into watching, and which also stunk.

De Niro and Pacino play two grizzled and wrinkly cops who've seen it all. They are tasked with tracking down a serial vigilante killer who leaves scraps of paper with awful doggerel at every crime scene.

The investigation is interspersed with fragments of De Niro's apparent videotaped confession to the murders. That's unfortunate, because it means we are pretty sure right away that he's not the culprit.

So the movie throws in some superfluous characters so the viewer will have some more obvious suspects: Carla Gugino, another cop who's into a kinky relationship with De Niro's character; Donnie Wahlberg and the great John Leguizamo as two younger cops also on the case; Brian Dennehy as the Lieutenant in charge.

We're also thrown a bunch of red herrings. Everybody acts suspicious at one time or another. Overall, the plot manages to be contrived and nonsensical.

There are occasional amusing lines. Extra half-star for that.

Last Modified 2014-11-30 3:21 PM EST