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Gingerbread Man [VHS] (1998)

Kenneth Branagh , Embeth Davidtz , Robert Altman  |  R |  VHS Tape
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Tom Berenger
  • Directors: Robert Altman
  • Writers: Clyde Hayes, John Grisham
  • Producers: David Levy, Glen Tobias, Jeremy Tannenbaum, Mark Burg, Todd R. Baker
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: USA
  • VHS Release Date: February 8, 2000
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304993722
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,670 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

When released in 1997, The Gingerbread Man was the only John Grisham movie that did not use one of the popular novelist's bestsellers as its inspiration. Rather, it's based on an original screenplay by Grisham that displays the author's familiar flair for Southern characters and settings within a labyrinthine plot propelled by his trademark narrative twists and turns. Sporting a spot-on Georgian accent, Kenneth Branagh plays a Savannah attorney who comes to the assistance of a troubled woman (Embeth Davidtz) and finds himself enmeshed in a scenario involving the woman's father (Robert Duvall) that grows increasingly complex and dangerous, where nothing, of course, is really as it seems. It's a totally absorbing movie made in the modern film-noir tradition; what's most interesting here (and most underrated by critics at the time) is the combination of Grisham's mainstream mystery and the offbeat style of maverick director Robert Altman. Despite a battle with executives that nearly caused Altman to disown the film, The Gingerbread Man demonstrates the director's skill in bringing a fresh, characteristically offbeat approach to conventional material, especially in the use of a threatening hurricane to hold the plot in a state of dangerous urgency. Unfortunately overlooked during its theatrical release, this intelligent thriller provides a fine double bill with Francis Coppola's film of Grisham's The Rainmaker. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Altman gem! May 14, 2004
By Cubist
I can remember seeing this movie in an almost empty theater when it came out. It's a shame because this is really a well-made, intriguing thriller that only Robert Altman could make. Rumour has it, he completely demolished John Grisham's original story and basically did his own thing--which is what Altman is famous for. The results? An unusual mystery that gets under your skin with characters that are flawed and always interesting to watch.
Much was made about Kenneth Branagh's Southern accent... or lack thereof. To tell you the truth, it really didn't bother me all that much and I think he pulled it off. He certainly is a flawed character, vain, self-absorbed but through the course of the movie he certainly learns his lesson as his whole world gets tossed upside down.
This movie really is about human behaviour as opposed to a concrete A to B to C linear plot. The mystery is really just window dressing to get all of these characters together and see what happens.
As always, Altman has assembled a top notch cast with the likes of Daryl Hannah (?!) and Tom Berenger plucked out of obscurity for solid performances. Robert Duvall also turns up as a crazed hobo character. He makes the most of his limited screen time. And of course, good ol' reliable Robert Downey, Jr. turns in another wonderfully eccentric turn as a slightly-sleazy private detective who's buddies with Branagh's character. He steals every scene that he's in.
The DVD is quite good. The audio and video is excellent. As another reviewer pointed out, if you have a surround sound set-up it feels like the tropical storm in the movie is all around you. Altman really knows how to build atmosphere and suggest a specific place.
This is a really good movie. Very underrated and worth a look.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent thriller December 18, 2002
I am inclined to like Robert Altman. I like the way he paces his movies, with dialog overlapping and little quirky comments. I like that. I like the impressive cast that he always gathers. And I liked this film well enough.
I thought the storm element in this film was perfectly appropriate. It added a noir touch that I appreciated. The dialog has a sense of humor that was a treat. Cinematography is excellent, and I loved the moody score by Mark Isham. The story is well-paced, and intriquing. I was engrossed until the end.
The cast is impressive and everyone does a great job. Branagh does a great Southern accent, and his character was believable as a somewhat cocky lawyer. I especially liked Robert Downey Jr.'s character-he was just right as Branagh's easy-going, flirty bar-hopping associate. Robert Duvall is also wonderful as a creepy old coot who doesn't like to wear shoes. An excellent, well-chosen cast.
A well-told mystery film. A solid offering.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite a film June 19, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I am not a big fan of either Robert Altman or John Grisham, but I was going out with some friends and this was the only movie in town that none of us had seen. I was riveted. The use of the color red is reminiscent of the great movie "Don't Look Now." Branagh gives a wonderful performance as a great lawyer who was a so-so husband and becomes a good father through the course of the movie. There isn't a pretentious moment in it. As a southerner by birth, I was the only one of my friends to laugh through the party scene at the beginning. It was dead accurate.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Branagh in Savannah March 27, 2006
By Selene
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I haven't anything to say on the movie as a whole - it's a grade-B thriller, creaky and contrived - but I wanted to add my 2 cents' worth on the phenomenon of Branagh the impersonator. I live in central east Georgia, and it has been my misfortune to spend quite a lot of time in the company of Savannah lawyers; Kenneth Branagh's character in this movie could have slipped into one of those practices like hair into hair oil. The look, the walk, the gestures, the speech - all of it seemed to me perfect. I am not native to Georgia, it's true, but I've lived here for 6 years, and usually accents bother me. Branagh's art - his ear, his technique - is something special.

So, if you're interested in him, or in mimicry in general, you will get something out of this over-all low-grade film.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Good July 16, 2004
By jcb02
The Gingerbread Man should be a better noir than it is. A primary flaw is its inability to get us behind its protagonist in any way- Rick MacGruder (Kenneth Branagh) is pompous, vain, and tempestuous. As an attorney, he is the polar opposite of Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch, willing to sink to any level in order to win a case. When MacGruder helps a young woman deal with her mentally unstable father, we know he is doing so out of a desire to get in her pants rather than any sort of altruism. It is simply hard to care for him as his situation deteriorates- indeed, one almost gets the feeling that karma is simply at work.
Another issue is the plot. While twists and turns are fine, this film saves all of them for the final thirty minutes, and they feel a little overwhelming. While you are trying to figure out how one twist happened, the next one barrels onto the screen.
Stylistically, the film has some interesting and cool moments. The slick opening shot, accompanied by the discordant score, takes us over the Georgia coastal plain and eventually tracks MacGruder's car over the Talmadge Bridge and into Savannah. It hardly matters that traveling from Jacksonville to Savannah (as we are told) doesn't take you over said bridge. The setting is an important part of the story, and Savannah is a location that never fails to lend its uniqueness to a film.
On the whole, The Gingerbread Man has some genuinely suspenseful moments (Duvall is particularly menacing) but it is otherwise disengaging. I was waiting for it to end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery
Was and ok movie...Glad I purchased it; probably won't watch it a second time.
Published 1 month ago by sam
3.0 out of 5 stars So Much Peril...So Much Confusion...
I wonder what this film would have been like had John Grisham published the manuscript that this all was based on. It was an okay film, but it was confusing. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Philip Scholz
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Robert Altman Film
THE GINGERBREAD MAN is a curious film. It has a very good premise and surreptitious storyline. However, there are a few things that keep this film from being something much... Read more
Published 2 months ago by gobirds2
2.0 out of 5 stars Blah....
I thought this was going to be a good suspenseful horror movie, but it's definitely not. In fact it's just the opposite. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rich
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice to watch
I enjoyed this movie, even though I bought this as a gift for a friend. Received this in perfect condition.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointed.
Good story but terrible sound and video. Mostly filmed at night and in the rain. Hard to see and had to have volume al the way up.
Published 8 months ago by John J. Jurick
5.0 out of 5 stars Very engrossing
Saw this about ten years ago and found it completely engrossing. Good story, great actors, (Robert Downey has a small but entertaining role as Branaugh's sidekick), good pacing,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mr. M
2.0 out of 5 stars An OK movie.
This movie left something to be desired. I didn't hate it, but I doubt we'll bother to watch it again. One for the yard-sale!
Published 17 months ago by E. Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my genre
Before purchasing this movie, I read several reviews and they were so good, I ignored my tiny little voice whispering, no, this isn't what you like. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kenneth Myron Bonnell
1.0 out of 5 stars "Cromulent"
was the word used to describe this film to me when a friend suggested I watch it. I had a craving for a Grisham film, and hadn't seen this one. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Pink Pixie
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