Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
Very watchable, funny, and provocative.
on January 2, 2004
This is a very watchable movie that succeeds because of: a) bravo performances by James Caan (as always) and Mandy Patinkin; b) a solid storyline; and c) the fact that the movie does not try to take itself too seriously even as it makes some social and political points. In effect, this movie is racial politics wrapped in equal parts science fiction and a satirical cop thriller. The amazing thing is, it works--this movie is a brisk and enjoyable viewing experience. The storyline never drags and always entertains. The social commentary, while pervasive, never intrudes on the storyline.
The basic premise of the film is that a huge spaceship full of alien "Newcomers" lands in the California desert. They have high IQs, average over 6 1/2 feet in height, get drunk on sour milk, cannot eat cooked meat, and have a variety of other odd characteristics as well. Their goal, and the government's goal, is to assimilate the Newcomers into American society as quickly as possible. James Caan plays a police detective who is assigned the first Newcomer detective partner: Detective Sam Francisco (Patinkin)and they are investigating a murder involving the Newcomer community. The chemistry between Caan and Patinkin is excellent, and both turn in fine performances. Lots of interesting and downright hilarious things happen along the way, which makes this film downright entertaining even as it gives a certain amount of lighthearted social commentary about the challenges that the most recent people "off the boat" can expect to face when entering American society.
The movie succeeds in its most important goal: it entertains. This is good lighthearted entertainment with a frosting of social commentary that avoids being PC.
The movie works.