Shortcut to Happiness

PLOT:

Jabez Stone (Alec Baldwin) is a desperate, down on his luck writer who reaches rock bottom when his close friend, Julius Jensen (Dan Aykroyd), finds success. Thwarted in his attempts to get his work published, he meets a beautiful stranger (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who offers him a chance at fame and fortune in exchange for his soul. Stone, having lost faith in himself, agrees to the offer.

After accepting the deal Jabez is quickly lavished with all he had ever dreamed of. A book deal, money, women, notoriety, Stone now had it all. However, despite the success, he is losing the friendship, respect and trust of those around him. Coming to the realization that he didn’t quite get everything he bargained for, Stone begs the Devil to release him from their deal. When the Devil scoffs he turns to famed orator Daniel Webster (Anthony Hopkins). The two conclude that they should take the battle to court with Webster defending Stone in an otherworldly trial against the Devil in the ultimate battle of wits in a fight over the fate of Stone’s soul.

REVIEW:

I had heard stories of the duel between the devil and Daniel Webster, and after hearing that they made a film based on it, I was expecting something big. However, I was disappointed that they went the dramatic route with the story. Having said that, this film isn’t half bad.

This film was filmed in 2001, but not released until 2007 because of financial reasons. This explains why Alec Baldwin looks so much thinner and younger than he does when you see him on 30 Rock. Now that thinner physique he used to have doesn’t mean he was any less of an actor. His performance may not be one of his more memorable roles, but it is pretty good.

Sir Anthony Hopkins, per his usual self, is stellar and distinguished as Daniel Webster. Honestly, who else could play one of the great orators of all time?

Jennifer Love Hewitt just doesn’t sell the sexy devil image for me. Nothing against her. I happen to think she’s quite hot, but this role wasn’t meant for her. Of course, the last sexy devil to grace the screen was Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, so she had quite the task of filling those (stiletto) shoes.

Dan Akroyd’s character seemed a bit one dimensional to me, but he did seem to gain a bit more depth and character as the judge at Jabez’s trial.

This film wasn’t very well received, marketed, and the fact that it was held off being released for 6 years should be a red flag, but there are a few good moments. The opening credits are pretty interesting, albeit misleading. Watching them put me in the mind of Mannequin or other comedies, but this film is far from being a comedy. It’s still a good watch, though.

3 out of 5 stars

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