Simon Sez

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson


Columbia-TriStar, widescreen 1.78:1/16x9, languages: English DD 5.1 [CC] & Dolby Surround, subtitles: none, single side-single layer, 28 chapters, "Making-of" featurette, talent files, theatrical trailers, rated PG-13, 88 min., $19.95, street date 11/30/99.

Studio Line

Directed by Kevin Elders. Starring Dennis Rodman, Dane Cook, Natalia Cigliuti, Filip Nikolic, John Pinette, Jerome Pradon.

NBA superstar Dennis Rodman is packing heat and looking cool as he takes on the bad guys in this sexy, action-packed adventure, which is set against the backdrop of the beautiful French Riviera.

Interpol agent Simon is working a case against a vicious arms dealer when he runs into Nick, a CIA flunky attempting to deliver a ransom and bring home his clients's daughter. It isn't long before Simon joins Nick in a deadly game of espionage and murder involving the arms dealer, the highpowered fathers of the kidnapped girl and her French boyfriend, and Simon's ex-girlfriend, whose body could be considered a lethal weapon. Filled with awe-inspiring adrenaline-pumping action sequences that pulsate to a hip techno score, Simon Sez features Dennis Rodman the way you've never seen him before. He may be playing the good guy, but he's as bad as he's ever been!

Picture/Sound/Extras (A-/A-/D-)

Dennis Rodman: action hero. That phrase begs one question: why?! Rodman was an excellent ballplayer - well, an excellent rebounder, at least - but an actor? Who wants to see that?

Not many people, apparently, since all of his feature film appearances have tanked worse than the post-Jordan Bulls. He's starred in 1997's Double Team, which took in about $11 million, and 1999's Simon Sez, which fared even worse with a gross of a little less than $300,000.

$300,000??!! I didn't think it was even possible for a movie to make that little money! Granted, since it's clear that the producers knew they had a dog on their hands, SS only appeared on 504 screens (major releases typically open on about 2500 screens, with really big ones breaking into the 3000s). Still, $300,000 is an absolutely pathetic gross.

And one absolutely deserved by this absolutely pathetic film. Is Simon Sez the worst movie I've ever seen? Nope, but it's close enough to smell that film's breath.

Rodman can't act. That's perfectly clear about five minutes into this debacle. But SS stinks so bad that he's nowhere near the worst actor in the film. In fact, he's one of the better performers we see! Perhaps the producers went out of their way to find no-talents to make Rodman look better. It didn't help; it just makes the movie that much worse.

Most of the actors are simply bland and forgettable. However, we do witness an unholy triad of performers who offer some of the most annoying and least effective characterizations I've yet witnessed: Dane Cook as Nick, John Pinette as Macro, and Jerome Pradon as Ashton. If I'd had a razor in my room, I'd be dead now, because the mere sight of these losers made me want to slit my wrists. Geez, just thinking about them is encouraging me to reach for the scissors on my desk. Can't do it - life must go on! Move on to different subject!

In its favor, SS does offer some pretty decent fight scenes. They use the Hong Kong style that's so popular these days, and while they can't compete with the fervor of infinitely better films like The Matrix, these segments at least momentarily quelled my desire for suicide. The non-fighting action portions are much less compelling, though, as they are nothing more than 18th-rate Bond ripoffs. (They even stole a waterskiing gag from a Bond film - Licence to Kill, I think...)

Is there anything positive about this film? Well, Natalia Cigliuti, the actress who plays Claire, is unbelievably gorgeous and sexy. If she took off her clothes at any point during the movie, it might be worth a look. But the farthest she goes is down to a bikini. Damn you, PG-13!

Anyway, do yourself a favor and skip Simon Sez. This is an utter waste of a movie and stands a good chance at earning the honor of the worst film of 1999.

Which means, inevitably, it has to make for a good DVD. Simon Sez appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; as is typical for Columbia-Tristar (CTS) productions, the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Atypical, however, is the lack of inclusion of a fullscreen version of the film. CTS is one of the few studios that tosses in both formats when possible, and it definitely should have been doable here, since SS runs for only 88 minutes. Even with a few supplements, plenty of room remained; Stepmom lasts 125 minutes and even though the DVD included a featurette and a trailer, it still had both fullscreen and letterboxed editions. I don't miss the lack of a fullscreen transfer, but I nonetheless thought it seemed odd.

In any case, the picture looks quite good, though it doesn't lack flaws. Sharpness seems strong and consistent, with no signs of any softness. Moiré effects were a fairly frequent problem, however, and I noted too many "jaggies"; pretty much whenever we saw a character with glasses, their spectacles appeared rough-edged. The print looked fine, with no signs of any speckling, scratches, marks or grain.

Colors seemed perfectly adequate; the production design was not especially colorful, so no hues really appeared to stand out, but they did look fine. Black levels also seemed good but unspectacular, while shadow detail occasionally appeared a little heavy, especially in some of the early scenes. Overall, however, Simon Sez offered a very pleasing visual experience.

Simon Sez boasts one of the most active Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes I've heard. While it makes quite good use of effects and spreads them liberally across all five channels, where the soundtrack really excels is in the reproduction of the film's techno score. The producers aggressively blast this music through all the speakers and it really helps add life to the film. Without the score, the mix seems very active and engulfing, but the music ratchets things up a notch; not one of your speakers will ever get a break during this film.

Unfortunately, some quality problems occur. The music sounds fantastic and features a terrific dynamic range; the bass thumps but the score always seems clear and crisp. The same cannot be said for the dialogue, however, which often sounds surprisingly dull and flat with some very noticeable edginess at times; it seems intelligible, but the weaker quality contrasts so strongly with the high-powered music that the speech sounds even worse than it is. Effects offer some range and impact but they also suffer from the distortion that occasionally affects the dialogue and falter in comparison with the music. Simon Sez provides a frequently stunning surround mix, but it offers quality that's often less than stellar.

Simon Sez provides a few supplemental materials but nothing of significance. A promotional featurette that runs for a little more than four minutes appears. It's the standard "glorified trailer" that simply tells us how terrific and how exciting the movie will be. Yawn. Actual trailers for both Simon Sez and Double Team pop up, as well as one of CTS's typically lousy "talent file" entries for Rodman. Surprisingly, the package does not include a booklet, an item that usually comes with CTS DVDs.

Theoretically, some great extras could have made Simon Sez a palatable DVD; they did the trick for Detroit Rock City, another completely terrible movie. As it stands, there's no reason for anyone to bother with this disc. The film bites, and while the DVD offers rather good picture and sound, it lacks compelling supplements. Colin sez skip this loser...

Related Sites

Current as of 1/12/2000

Dennis Rodman Worldwide--"Rodman Worldwide is a web page for people interested in Dennis Rodman. You may love him, you may hate him, but everyone knows that he is the king of the rebound. the DVD at special discount. the DVD at special discount.
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