ninth symphony films - movie reviews

ON THE LINE (2001)

DIRECTOR  -  eric bross

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  romantic comedy

LENGTH  -  86 minutes

RELEASED  -  26 october 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  miramax pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  on the line

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $10,000,000
on the line - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from on the line at

buy the dvd from on the line at

a guy meets a girl on a train and forgets to get her number.

michael mann and eric roth, the writing team behind the insider, heavily revised rivele and wilkinson's script. a writer's guild arbitration ruled on 1 october 2001 that all four would have credit for the screenplay.


picture from on the line

picture from on the line

picture from on the line


zero out of four possible stars

It is a common occurrence for chart topping pop stars to engage in feature film foolery, and more often than not, those pop stars are ridiculed for their efforts, an rightly so. Possessing a good voice does not always mean one has the faculties to act. And sadly, star Lance Bass is not able to rise to the challenge of the big screen. His failure is due to equally to an egregious amount of mistakes that litter this film and the fact that his acting legs arenít too sturdy. From a story whose two main characters have no chemistry with one another, to an overall sense of humor that just isnít funny, On the Line should be a lesson of how not to make a film.

The supporting characters who fill in the roles of ďcomedic sidekicksĒ practically own more screen time than either of the main characters (who donít share the screen themselves but twice in the entire film). And the "sidekicks" really needed to be booted off stage. Bassís fellow pop star buddy Joey Fatone included, the group of guys that conspire to help Bass find the woman he found and lost one day on the elevated train in Chicago do more to harm his cause than anything. And though they exist as proper complications for the main character and plot, the actors were very poorly chosen and given unfunny dialogue to recite.

And that sentiment can probably be carried to every character in the film. The dialogue really is wretched and sounds many times as if it were written on the set at the last minute by an extra with no experience in writing. Actually, thatís probably an insult to people who make their living as movie extras. They could probably write far superior dialogue. As could any fifteen year old high school student who had taken a creative writing class or two. Copying sentiments and entire sentences from romantic comedies past, the writers of On the Line made sure to emulate (read: copy) everything in that genre thatís been said before.

The fact that the plot isnít the most original probably wouldnít have doomed the picture in the least if the dialogue had been catchy or the actors performing it had done so with believability. Ironically, when people are actually trying to be serious, the movie becomes good for a laugh or two. Like when the lovelorn Bass (who plays ad agency employee, ďKevinĒ) talks about how heíll never find the girl of his dreams and that he just let her slip through his fingers. (that girl is played by newcomer, Emmanuelle Chriqui) Though the sentiment is romantic, Bass doesnít deliver that feeling realistically. It is probably fortunate that the editors did not focus more time on the main character, since he was portrayed with so little finesse.

And since the star-crossed lovers spend so little time together on screen, this filmís inability to make that romance convincing stems as much from the lack of chemistry between the stars as from the screenplay. Filled with non-sequiturs that make no sense and do nothing to advance the plot, much of the filmís running time is wasted on dialogue that has nothing to do with the story. Itís as if the editor threw the scenes up in the air, caught the ones that best slowed the story down and inserted them into the film, neglecting to include any intelligence the screenwriters might have put into the story.

Something which can only be considered ironic is the horrible use of music in the film. Whether itís a teen-based pop song or an R&B love ballad, the music doesnít mesh well with the film. The soundtrack seems entirely out of place in areas where it should feel completely comfortable, given that this is a romance and a comedy and those types of songs frequently appear on films of this type. Perhaps it is the less than decent performances. Or perhaps itís the editing that doesnít make a lot of sense, rhythmically.

Though it might just be a combination of all the elements of this film coming together in a laughable fashion without a lot of intelligence in their construction. Funny when itís not supposed to be and confusing when itís supposed to be funny, On the Line presents a film with a regular story whose execution has made fools of all involved in its creation. From the acting to the directing to the set decoration (which is many times lacking in and of itself), this film doesnít have any fine points worth recommending. One might hope for some beautiful shots of Chicagoís impressive downtown area to take oneís interest off the horrid dialogue, but the cinematographer didnít allow himself the luxury of showing the audience that beautiful skyline. The most beautiful thing in this film is the credits, which will let viewers know that their torture is over.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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