A TIME TO SCHVITZ

PODHORETZ, JOHN

A Time to Schvitz By John Podhoretz From the commercials, you might think the hit screen version of John Grishamís first novel, A Time to Kill, is about the trial of a black man who shot and...

...This is one of three dozen occasions during the course of A Time to Kill when McConaughey stands mute as another cast member berates him...
...he is getting paid little money for defending Jackson and refuses to give up the case even after the Klan burns his house down and drives his wife and child into hiding...
...McConaughey seems like a decent guy...
...Youíre my secret weapon,Ē Jackson says, ďbecause youíre one of them...
...A Time to Kill is a courtroom drama set in the Deep South, and have you ever heard of a courtroom melodrama set in the Deep South where people arenít schvitzing like pigs...
...Youíre the enemy...
...Their movie versions, made in 1962 and 1960 respectively, accurately captured a time in the South when there really was no air conditioning, men wore bright white suits, and people carried hand fans...
...Then a law student (Sandra Bullock) upbraids him for supporting the death penalty...
...In A Time to Kill, however, Schumacher and Goldsman have taken Grishamís only halfway decent book and turned it into campy junk...
...John Grisham turned A Time to Kill, his favorite among his own books, over to Schumacher and Goldsman because he liked the way they realized the film version of his novel The Client...
...Then his drunken former boss (Donald Sutherland) gives him a lecture about how he needs to be a better lawyer...
...Judging from what we see on screen, itís especially fun to be the Kleagle, because while rank-andfile Klan have to wear a white getup (attractive, if severe), the Kleagle gets to walk the runway in a really fabulous red satin number that looks utterly divine...
...We are meant to understand that because of all this moral instruction, McConaughey gives a really moving summation in which he cries and thereby gets Samuel L. Jackson off...
...I would cry too if I got yelled at constantly (especially if I were a pretty good guy and exceptionally cute, like McConaughey...
...Or denied their right to portray the Deep South of the present day as a nest of Klansmen...
...A Time to Kill is a ripoff of To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind, two southern courtroom melodramas set in the first half of this century...
...Our hero, McConaughey, is not a Klansman...
...By contrast, A Time to Kill is nominally set in the present dayó though we only know itís the present because the movieís leading man, Matthew McConaughey, drives around in a Saab convertible with the top down (despite the fact that he supposedly has no money and even a lousy Yugo has an air conditioner...
...Or, more precisely, the lack of air conditioning...
...Then, his secretary (Brenda Fricker) scolds him for ignoring his other clients and putting her in danger...
...Schumacher and Goldsman took a potboiler with a ludicrous premise and turned it into a terrific and amazingly believable movie...
...actually, heís the lawyer for the family man (Samuel L. Jackson) who killed his daughterís rapists...
...But director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman simply were not going to be denied their right to perspiration...
...He was right about The Client...
...But donít be fooled, because, as Samuel L. Jackson explains in a jailhouse speech the night before McConaughey must deliver his summation, McConaughey is a Klansman at heart...
...First, his wife (Ashley Judd) gives him the standard wifeina-movie speech about how he cares more about his clients than his own family...
...People in this movie fan themselves madly as sweat glistens prettily from every inch of visible skin (including cleavage, needless to say) and spreads photogenically across menís dress shirts and tank tops...
...The hidden message of A Time to Kill is that nobody in Mississippi owns an air conditioner because the stateís residents spend all their money on expensive Ku Klux Klan gear...
...A Time to Schvitz By John Podhoretz From the commercials, you might think the hit screen version of John Grishamís first novel, A Time to Kill, is about the trial of a black man who shot and killed the two rednecks who raped his ten-year-old daughter...
...Actually, itís about air conditioning...

Vol. 1 • August 1996 • No. 47


 
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