ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – P – The Pledge (2001) Movie Review

Director: Sean Penn

Writer: Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski (Screenplay) Friedrich Durrenmatt (Book)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Benicio Del Toro, Aaron Eckhart, Beau Daniels, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke

Plot: A retiring police detective pledges to catch the killer of a young child.


Tagline – He may have retired, but he’s still catching the killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Thriller

Story: The Pledge starts as the body of a young girl who has been brutally raped and murdered is discovered, retiring detective Jerry Black (Nicholson) wants to help investigate under Stan Krolak (Eckhart), which includes breaking the news to the parents Margaret (Clarkson) and Duane (O’Keefe), making a promise to get the monster behind this crime.

What looks like a cut and dry case, mentally handicapped Toby Wadenah (Del Toro) admits to the crime, dying in police custody. Jerry continues on into retirement, only after another murder that looks similar, he starts to look into the case again, learning that the real killer might still be out there and wanting to solve the case, even without the help of his former colleagues.

Thoughts on The Pledge

Characters – Jerry Black is a detective on the verge of retirement, when the murder happens, he wants to help and after the solving of the case goes smoothly, he heads of into retirement sunset, until he learns about another murder, he wants to reopen the case to solve the a potential serial killer, putting him in the position where he thinks he will cross paths with the killer. When it comes to the rest of the characters, we have a string of police officers at different levels, a couple of parents, some who have seen their children killed, one suffering abuse, but most of this film is focusing on how Jerry is dealing with retirement.

PerformancesJack Nicholson is fantastic in this leading role, he brings us a veteran cop that has always been able to solve a case, and shows how retirement will leave a void in his life. We do have a very good supporting cast of actors here including Helen Mirren, Patricia Clarkson, Aaron Eckhart, Vanessa Redgrave, Benicio Del Toro, Robin Wright and Sam Shepard who all do well with their roles in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a retiring detective that gets involved in one last case, only for him to see it closed easily, but not being convinced the suspect was really the person, trying to continue solving the crime, which he believes is bigger. This is a very interesting story, it does show how crimes could easily be connected and how it could only be one that starts trying to solve the issues he has with the case, while deeper down it shows how one detective could be struggling with his retirement, not wanting to accept that he won’t have cases to solve. Having both of these ideas playing hand in hand is very interesting, which leads to us wondering which is true.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film does see a horrible murder being solved, with the mystery about whether it was really the person that was caught or not.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how Jerry is trying to solve a murder, which could end up being a bigger crime going on, with him looking at potential locations.


Scene of the Movie – The parade.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is left too much to our own to decide the truth.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting thriller that does follow a detective who believes that a crime could still need solving, or he could just be making it up to keep him busy, this is interesting to see unfold with Jack Nicholson shining.

Overall: Brilliant Thriller.

Jack Black Weekend – Shallow Hall (2001) Movie Review

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Writer: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Sean Moynihan (Screenplay)

Starring: Gwyenth Paltrow, Jack Black, Jason Alexander, Joe Viterelli, Rene Kirby, Bruce McGill, Anthony Robbins

Plot: A shallow man falls in love with a 300-pound woman because of her inner beauty.


Tagline – True Love Is Worth The Weight!

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Sweet Little Comedy

Story: Shallow Hal starts as we meet Hal (Black) who was given advice from his father to never settle always shot for the stars when trying to meet women. Now in adult life he is a nice guy but he only targets models, always striking out, even if his friends try to convince him to learn about the women first.

After getting trapped in an elevator with Anthony Robbins a television hypnotist, he pulls a trick on him to see women for their inner beauty, which sees him meeting Rosemary (Paltrow) seeing her as a beautiful women, when she is really a bigger women, somebody Hal would never give a second glance to, Hal’s best friend Mauricio (Alexander) is getting worried his friend has changed.

Thoughts on Shallow Hal

Characters – Hal saw his father die young giving him one piece of advice, never settle when it comes to the ladies. Keeping that in his mind he has only ever tried to date models, without much success. He gets hypnotised into seeing the inner beauty only which to meet Rosemary a bigger woman he only sees as a beautiful woman, which sees him learn the lesson in life that people are not just what the outside shows. Rosemary is the woman Hal sees as a beautiful model, but she is a bigger girl with a heart of gold, which under the spell that Hal is under he doesn’t see, she is reluctant to let Hal into her life, but eventually believes him to be good. Mauricio is the shallow best friend of Hal’s, they have both only tried to date the beautiful women, he sees something wrong with his friend and tries to fix it. Steve Shanahan is Rosemary’s father and Hal’s boss who sees the positives in Hal, but will protect his daughter at any cost.

PerformancesJack Black in the lead of a comedy like this works wonders, he can play both sides with ease being the charmer that isn’t afraid whether he strikes out or not. Gwyneth Paltrow is great too showing she can handle comedy without needing to be the one running with the jokes. Jason Alexander provides fun supporting role that shows his skills in comedy.

StoryThe story here follows a man Hal that believes he can only date models after being raised to never settle for less, when he gets hypnotised he learns to admire the inner beauty in women never seeing any of their outside flaws like the rest of the world, we are left to see if he can learn to just ignore everything once the spell wears off. This is an interesting look at romance, it shows us just how important trying to find love can be and getting to know a person is more important than anything else. This aside we do seem to have one flaw in the story and that is only some of the people change, while others remain completely the same, which does seem strange and it also only seems to show people that volunteer being less attractive, while the career driven women more than men are seen to be ugly inside. That aside we are focusing more on the struggles that Hal’s friend is facing with his change, more than Hal needing to learn about his changes.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy largely comes from Jack Black, while some of the lines seem awkward when we know the difference between the two Rosemary’s he delivers his comedy in such a confident way it shines through, with the romance being about how falling in love can happen with the person you least expect at times.

SettingsThe film is set in the big city and shows how people can be ignored at times, while other times they could be right there in your life.


Scene of the Movie – Leaving Party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We do seem to imply that women who volunteer are beautiful on the inside, not career women.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that hits most of its marks, it plays into Jack Black’s strengths proving that giving him the right material he can improve any movie.

Overall: Funny for the Most Part.