Rated R - Running Time: 1:38 - Released 8/21/02

Robin Williams has certainly done his best to be considered a versatile actor. In addition to all his quirky/crazy characters dating back to Mork, his resumé contains no shortage of "serious" roles, including one, in Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting, that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Williams's latest couple of roles have had him dabbling in the "psychotic villain" area, and although his parts in Insomnia and Death To Smoochy, both released earlier this year, were at least adequate, I'm afraid this one is just a little too ridiculous. Of course, the fact that he's dealing with such a weak script doesn't help. Written and directed by novice Mark Romanek, One Hour Photo veers back and forth between pointless and preposterous, with a pace so slow it's like watching film develop. Williams's inability to create a plausible psycho stalker is understandable given the material; what's really hard to believe is his ability to keep from cracking up laughing while delivering his lines. Moreover, the supporting characters are as two-dimensional as the numerous photos of them featured in the film, and actors Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) and Michael Vartan are powerless to make them any more interesting.

Williams plays Sy Parrish, the senior technician at the one-hour photo developing department of a huge, Wal-Mart-like superstore (called SavMart in the movie). While he outwardly seems like a nice, if vaguely pathetic, guy and expounds passionately on the fine art of film processing, we soon learn that he's got a disturbing side. Lacking any family or relationships of his own, he has become enamored with one young family who regularly bring their film to his workplace. Although he's never met Will Yorkin (Vartan), who runs his own business and is consequently too busy to spend much time at home, he is on a first-name basis with Will's wife Nina (Nielsen) and their 9-year-old son Jake (Dylan Smith). Having seen their family pictures ever since Will and Nina were married (including pictures of Jake dating back to his birth), he feels he knows the Yorkins, and secretly wishes he were a family member. It's mildly disturbing that he does things like visiting their house while they're away (he knows their address from the film packages), or going to watch Jake's soccer practices in lieu of his real father, but you'll really freak when you see the inside of his apartment. Sy's photo-eavesdropping pushes him over the edge, however, at the concurrence of two events which I will not divulge (in case anyone really wants to go to this flick). Suffice to say, Sy's preoccupation with the Yorkins, coupled with a dark childhood secret, causes him to snap—and I don't just mean pictures.

The fact that this movie is incredibly slow is accentuated by the fact that its plot is pointless. A full half hour passes before anything remotely interesting happens, and when things start happening, they're only remotely interesting. There are a few creepy scenes, like one particularly disturbing image during a dream, and a tense if implausible psycho climax, but these moments are tiny islands in a sea of boring. The film is capped by a characteristically bland performance by ER's Eriq La Salle, who, if he is capable of showing emotion, has never shown it to me. Director Romanek appears to be grasping at straws, regularly depending on scary music to create tension Williams cannot deliver. I'm sorry, but watching him walk around Wal-Mart with a grim look on his face does not scare me—I do that every time I'm in Wal-Mart.

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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