Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Gun Shy (2000)
Studio Line: Hollywood Pictures - The Agency's best has a bad case of nerves.

Liam Neeson (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) and Oliver Platt (Bicentennial Man) star with Sandra Bullock (Hope Floats) in an outrageously offbeat comedy about what happens when a gutsy undercover cop suddenly loses his legendary nerves of steel! The only way Charlie (Neeson), a respected D.E.A. agent traumatized by a hair-raising run-in with some ruthless gangsters, can do his job is with the embarrassing treatments of an attractive nurse (Bullock) and the questionable psychotherapy provided by a highly unstable support group! And since he's stuck in a deep-cover sting operation until he nabs a wisecracking, trigger-happy Mafia leader who scares him to death (Platt), Charlie can only hope to fake his tough-as-nails image long enough to make this one last bust…and make it out alive! Loaded with huge stars and big laughs -- you can't miss with this high-caliber comedy hit!

Director: Eric Blakeney
Cast: Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt, Sandra Bullock, Jose Zuniga, Mitch Pileggi, Richard Schiff, Mary McCormack, Frank Vincent
Box Office: Budget: $10 million. Opening Weekend: $703 thousand. Gross: $1.631 million.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English DD 5.1; subtitles none; closed-captioned; single side - single layer; 24 chapters; rated R; 102 min.; $29.99; street date 6/20/00.
Supplements: Theatrical Trailers.
Purchase: DVD | Score soundtrack - Rolfe Kent

Picture/Sound/Extras: B-/B+/D-

Based on its trailer, Gun Shy looked like it had some potential. Although that preview suffered from Tarantino-wannabe syndrome - a tendency to make everything look hip and glib in that violent, splashy Quentin manner - it seemed as though it might be fun.

So much for initial appearances. That trailer really represented false advertising, as it didn't give us a good representation of the movie at all. Although Gun Shy aspires to Tarantino coolness, it never comes close, and makes for a pretty unpleasant experience.

Liam Neeson plays Charlie, a hotshot government agent who, as he approaches retirement, starts to lose his nerve. The feds still need him, so he plods through, aided by psychological counseling and also through the benefits of a new relationship with Judy (Sandra Bullock), the nurse he meets when gets an enema.

Yes, this is the kind of movie that matches our romantic leads when one of them has a hose up his ass. That's about as clever as the movie gets. Gun Shy tries to mine territory similar to that seen in Analyze This, although it played better in the earlier movie. Yes, it's kind of amusing to see someone talk about real problems amidst all of the whining from the other dudes in his group sessions, but the joke wears thin.

As do all of the bathroom gags. There's an awful lot of flatulence humor in this movie, and it tends to stay below the belt for most of its jokes. Although I don't care for scatological stuff, I can take it to a certain degree, but Gun Shy goes over the top.

Neeson is miscast as Charlie, and he seems truly out of place in this movie. Granted, I've never really figured out what Neeson's "place" is; I think he's probably best suited for serious period pieces. Kudos to him for branching out, but he may want to be more selective in the future.

Bullock's Judy seems absolutely superfluous to the story. Honestly, there's absolutely no reason for her character to exist other than because a) they wanted some lighter, romantic scenes (no matter how out of place they appear), and b) Bullock produced it and wanted a vanity piece. She adds nothing to the film, however, and her scenes easily could be edited out without any loss. While the trailer makes you think otherwise, her part barely qualifies as a cameo; Bullock appears in very little of the film.

Pretty much the closest thing to a saving grace in Gun Shy is Oliver Platt's intermittently-funny take on the stereotypical "wise guy". As Fulvio, he has all of the trappings down, but his heart's not in it and he can't quite make a commitment to "the life". Platt offers some good acting at times; his opening scene (in which he terrorizes a neighbor) is pretty strong, and he even makes a lame line such as referring to "narcosleepy" almost work. However, the stupidity of the script and the base nature of the gags wears him down and makes even his best efforts in vain.

Gun Shy definitely isn't the worst movie I've seen, and it even offers a laugh or two. However, it's a pretty weak effort that wastes some talented people. This is the kind of film you watch to kill time when it pops up on cable and you have nothing better to do.

The DVD:

Gun Shy appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall the picture looked pretty good, but it suffered from some definite problems at times.

Sharpness generally appeared reasonably crisp and concise, though softness interfered with some interior shots, many of which looked slightly hazy; they didn't seem poorly focussed but the softness caused some interference. Moiré effects and jagged edges were quite rare, and I also noticed few artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. Print flaws seemed surprisingly prevalent considering the newness of this film. Light grain appeared at times during the film, and speckles and grit marred a fair amount of the picture. I also saw a nick or two, but no hairs or other exterior problems. However, a film from 2000 should appear virtually immaculate, and Gun Shy doesn't come close; the flaws appear mostly in the first half of the movie, and their relative absence during the second part is the only thing that kept this DVD from a rating that entered "C" territory.

GS used a fairly limited palette and prefers to display earthy, brown tones. As such, the colors seemed subdued but remained accurate and pleasant. Black levels were decently dark and deep, and shadow detail usually appeared appropriately opaque, though that issue - like much of the transfer - was inconsistent; a few scenes were overly thick, but some - such as one with Neeson and Bullock in a car - seemed wonderfully lit. Ultimately, Gun Shy looks adequate, and much of it actually seems very good, especially during the second half of the movie. However, it's inconsistencies are severe enough for it to merit no higher than a "B-".

The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack offers greater pleasures, though it's not anything special. The soundfield seems strongly oriented toward the forward channels, which are really quite active. The front three speakers portrayed a lively environment that placed sounds in the proper locations and appeared fairly rich and concise. The surrounds provided very little action, however, and they seemed almost wholly reserved for light reinforcement of the front channels; I noticed some distinct music from the rears at times, but otherwise I was never aware of their use.

Audio quality appeared fairly good. Dialogue was the worst component, in that much of the speech sounded somewhat flat and dull; it always remained easily intelligible but appeared less natural than I'd expect. Effects were very clear and rich, and the music seemed nicely bold and vibrant. The variety of music in the film provided its strongest component, as the soundtrack blasted all kinds of tunes clearly and to fine effect. Without the music, the mix would have rated lower, but that part of the track raised my overall sound score to a solid "B+".

Easily the weakest part of the DVD comes from its supplemental features, or lack thereof. All we get is the pretty good (though misleading) trailer for Gun Shy. Yippee!

Actually, Gun Shy provides a few other trailers, but you'll forgive my lack of excitement. I wouldn't care anyway, but since GS continues the questionable trend we now find on most Disney-distributed product: a slew of advertisements that appear prior to the main menu. The DVD starts with the usual copyright warning, and then it launches immediately into an announcer with his usual "Coming soon to own on video and DVD..." line. We find ads for Mumford, Outside Providence, Happy Texas and Play It to the Bone. I don't particularly mind these ads; they offer some potentially interesting information and my Panasonic players allow me to quickly and easily skip them through the "chapter skip" button.

However, many others detest these trailers; some feel that way just due to the principle of the thing, whereas others have had a trouble bypassing the commercials as easily as I could do so. It appears some DVD players have more difficulty with them than others, though I haven't heard of any concrete trends that indicate any particular models that all refuse to advance. Whether these ads are a serious negative or just a mild nuisance is up to you, but be warned that they're there.

Hopefully you'll never encounter these ads on this particular DVD because you'll listen to me and skip this movie. Gun Shy could have been witty and clever, but it becomes mired in a morass of lame toilet jokes and never lives up to a promising premise. The DVD itself provides generally good (but inconsistent) picture, solid sound, and almost no supplemental features. Take a pass on this one - Gun Shy doesn't even merit consideration as a rental.

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