EYEWITNESS



Television, Movie and Play Reviews

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

CONSPIRACY THEORY

Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart.
Director: Richard Donner
Rating: "R" - Language. Violence.
Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Mel Gibson plays Jerry Fletcher, a New York cabbie, who also publishes a little newsletter (five subscribers strong) called "Conspiracy Theory." Jerry is a bit of a whacko, but a lovable whacko, nonetheless. He is paranoid, but, as the old saying goes, "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you."

You name it, and Jerry either fears it or has a conspiracy theory about it. Are you worried about U.N. helicopters hovering in the whisper mode over downtown New York, disgorging black clad soldiers onto the streets below? Jerry has a theory about it. Ever wonder why the Vietnam War was fought? Jerry has a theory about it. Ever worry about scientists harnessing the power of earthquakes (shades of "Under Seige 2: Dark Territory," the Steven Segall movie...) and using them for dastardly purposes? Jerry has a theory about that too.

And since his customers aren't really listening to all of this jibberish, or at least they don't seem to be, what's a paranoid guy going to do? Tell someone else. Someone in authority, perhaps. That someone is Julia Roberts in the guise of a Justice Department lawyer. She thinks he's a whacko, but a relatively harmless one, and doesn't have an unkind bone in her body, so she listens to him. She doesn't believe him, but she politely listens.

As you might guess, something happens to make her sit up and listen a bit more carefully and believe. It's almost too late, but eventually something does catch her attention. And she sets off on a one-woman crusade to rescue Jerry.

Did I mention that Jerry thinks he's in love with Alice (Julia Roberts)? And that she thinks it's a sweet idea but not real love. Did I mention that Alice is also on a one- woman crusade to find out who murdered her father? And that Jerry is practically stalking Alice in his "off duty" hours? Getting confused? Don't worry. The story doesn't make much sense most of the time anyway. Just sit back and enjoy the roller coaster ride. If you try to figure things out logically you'll cause yourself a brain injury.

Alice prowling through the mental wards in search of Jerry? Outcome not only improbable but impossible as well. The escape and evasion at the farm? Impossible. (How did a farm get in this? Don't ask.) The "twist" ending? Oh, please...

If you're willing to forget about the plot (and why not, the writers seem to have forgotten all about it) you can have fun with Jerry and his frantic paranoia. His manic actions pair nicely with Roberts' sereneness. And who knows, you might just pick up a couple of new conspiracy theories on the way.

Oh, I forgot to mention Patrick Stewart. As you might suspect, he's one of Jerry's worst nightmares. Or at least he is supposed to be. For my money, he does a better job of playing a starship captain. I found him utterly unconvincing in this role.


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