*** Official "JOHN Q" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Feb 14, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for John Q. Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues, please post your discussion comments in the Official Discussion Thread for this film which can be found at this link.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    John Q is a film about an average Joe with a lovely wife and adoring son. He works in a factory that is suffering through the current economic downturn which in turn affects his income-making ability by reducing the number of hours he could work at the factory. Yes, times are hard for this family but somehow, you have a sense they will make it because of the strength and love that exist within the family. However, events take a drastic turn when the adoring nine year old son collapses playing baseball and the situation for this family becomes worse with the knowledge that the son needs a heart transplant but such a surgery is very expensive. Most families that are faced with such situations require economic help from their medical insurance which is the crux of this film because due to the John Q's reduced work hours, his current medical insurance plan doesn't fully insured his family. Face with roadblock after roadblock in his attempt to raise the necessary funds for the operation, John Q decides on a desperate act to save his son's life.
    Recognizing that this film was panned by several critics including some I greatly respect, such as Ebert, I nevertheless stirred up enough courage to see the film and form my own opinion about it. First off, the film is a very fictional tale that took several liberties with facts regarding the hospital and insurance professions. The script laid it on thick with the sympathy angle for Denzel Washington's character and his family plight. The film had the usual stereotypes who sometimes bordered on caricatures, which we have seen in previously released films about hostage situations. Furthermore, the dialogue was uneven with it's serious dramatic undertones and attempts at humor. The acting performances were very good to average. Denzel gave a very good emotionally charged performance. Duvall was solid as usual in his police negotiator role while James Woods was kind of out of character playing a high class heart surgeon. The performances of the actors playing the roles of Washington's wife and son were effective and the other supporting actors like Heche, Liotta, and Griffin were okay but I've seen better performances from them in other films.
    Yup, this film really plucked at the heart strings with its sermon about what's wrong with this country's medical/insurance field but guess what? I like it! Even with all the implausible facts and unrealistic scenes, I really enjoyed this film. Maybe, I'm giving this film a break because it has some of my favorite actors in it such as Washington, Duvall, Woods, and Liotta but then again; it could be that this film just entertain me which is one of the basic things I hope to achieve when watching any film. Judging from the sniff sniff reactions from my fellow moviegoers it seems that the majority seem to have received their monies worth. Also, I ran into a couple of people that I knew when walking out after the film and both individuals really liked this film. I think this film is going to make some box office money not because it was a great film but for it's entertainment value to the average moviegoer. I guess in the end, I'm nothing more than a sentimentalist. Where's Claude Rains and Bogie when you need them?[​IMG]
    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I actually liked the film more than I thought would be possible. I'll chalk this up to Denzel and some choices in the screenplay and direction that veered away from some situations that would have raised the gag factor. There are some sitautions where your suspension of disbelief is tested, but with Denzel and Nick Cassavettes holding my hand, I was willing to go with them.
    I can't imagine any positive review for this film not crediting most of their enjoyment to anything but Denzel Washington. He is so easy to watch, so easy to identify with, and so incredibly able to take you where the story needs you to go. I mean, here he plays a father pushed to the end of his rope with no options left except for the irrational. And you (or at least I) could see his position. He repeatedly says that he doesn't know what to expect, and the story unfolds with that in mind. He doesn't play a chess game with the cops. He doesn't have a trick up his sleeve. Even the ending, which is incredibly implausible, seems like a happy ending afterthought that he didn't think of himself. And I will warn you, the ending requires you not to give it any thought because it has many many holes and coincidences.
    The remainder of the cast does a servicable job of keeping the story moving. Some of them are stock characters (wisecracking black guy, "Not for $8.50 an hour I won't" rent-a-cop, earnest/idealistic young doctor, and the about to deliver woman. Somehow James Woods avoids becoming contemptible in the callous heart surgeon role, but he does. Ray Liotta is the defacto bad guy without much effort and Anne Heche doesn't have much to provide and doesn't seem to really try to give more than the material requires. One particular note is Daniel Smith as John Q's son. He does a great job of making you care about him in a very short period of time. It's a crucial part of making the film work, and he does it very well.
    Obviously the film is a talking point about healthcare and insurance, and it goes about it without much subtelty. They even have an impromptu roundtable discussion about it with the hostages. Then there is a montage of real life demonstrations to bludgeon the point home. I wish they had chosen a more subtle approach to it, becuase it felt a bit insulting by the end.
    In the end, I can't fault the acting or direction, but instead the core story. It shows again how good actors can rise well above mediocre material to make an enjoyable evening at the movies.
    I give it [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] almost entirely because of Denzel's participation.
     
  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    When a film like John Q takes video clips of certain government key figures from actual news footage and mix those within its narrative, its aim becomes more than just to entertain. At the heart of the film is a statement on the ills of the managed care health system.
    When actors of this caliber get together to make a film with a political or social statement, the preponderance of truth should be of utmost concern, especially when the film is utterly one sided. However, as a feature film with a 118-minute running time, John Q is so full of dishonest situations and unbelievable characters enough to make it into the Guinness World Book of Records.
    From the laughable caricature police chief played by Ray Liotta to the cold hearted hospital administrator (Anne Heche), the heart surgeon played by James Woods who quips and is more concerned about protecting his brand new suit rather than saving a gun shot victim to the self-conceited and extremely vain news reporter, it is all there to either make you laugh or angry. But there is definitely nothing funny about this film as the actors are so serious and give it their all that they go over the top in their character portrayals. It is bad.
    The only positive aspect of this whole exercise is Denzel Washington’s performance. However, if the heart of the film is so weak and ill conceived to begin with, it is very hard to make an investment in such a character.
    John Q tackles a very complex subject matter that very few of us have an answer for. The film purports to have an answer but the issue is so overwhelming that it goes way over the filmmakers heads in tackling the issue. While it is admirable, it is certainly not well thought out and in the end, what we have is a film that makes a lot of criticisms but offers very little or no hard and solid alternatives or solutions to begin with.
    ~Edwin
     

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