The Gingerbread Man (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Gingerbread Man (1997)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Robert Altman directed this John Grisham tale that begins at a party where Savannah attorney Rick Magruder (Kenneth Branagh) celebrates his successful defense of a man who shot a local cop. The partygoers include his ex-wife Leeanne (Famke Janssen), the mother of his two children; his law partner Lois Harlan (Daryl Hannah); and caterer Mallory Doss (Embeth Davidtz). After Mallory finds her car stolen, Rick gives her a ride home where things turn sexual. Attracted to Mallory, he learns that her crazed father Dixon Doss (Robert Duvall) has been threatening her. Getting too closely involved with this woman he hardly knows, Rick has the police round up her unstable father, and he next subpoenas her ex-husband Pete (Tom Berenger) to testify against Dixon, who is institutionalized. The crazed Dixon manages to escape from the asylum, intent on revenge against all his betrayers and enemies. As a potent hurricane blows into Savannah, Mallory's car is torched, and Rick receives threats. Believing his children are in danger, Rick removes them from school, prompting a warrant for his arrest. When his children disappear, Rich goes on the counterattack against Dixon. Chinese cinematographer Changwei Gu (of Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine and Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou) captured the soaked Savannah sites. The script is not an adaptation from a John Grisham novel; Grisham wrote it as an original screenplay just before the success of The Firm (1993), and it was acquired by producer Jeremy Tannenbaum. After Island Pictures came into the project at $1.4 million, Grisham returned for rewrites. Altman did even more drafts, so the pseudonym Al Hayes was created as the scripting credit. When Polygram suggested to Altman that the electronic score could be replaced with a traditional score, Altman had friends call reporters to say he had been dismissed. Polygram began re-editing the $25 million movie, but their edit didn't test much better than Altman's version, so they handed the reins back to Altman.

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Cast

Kenneth Branagh
as Rick Magruder
Embeth Davidtz
as Mallory Doss
Daryl Hannah
as Lois Harlan
Tom Berenger
as Pete Randle
Robert Duvall
as Dixon Doss
Troy Beyer
as Konnie Dugan
Julia R. Perce
as Cassandra
Danny Darst
as Sheriff Hope
Sonny Seiler
as Phillip Dunson
Walter Hartridge
as Edmund Hess
Rosemary Newcott
as Dr. Bernice Sampson
Wilbur Fitzgerald
as Judge Russo
David Hirsberg
as Tom Cherry
Paul Carden
as Judge Cooper
Bob Minor
as Mr. Pitney
Myrna White
as Tax Clerk
Jim Grimshaw
as Desk Cop
Stuart Greer
as Detective Hal
Nita Hardy
as Policewoman
Ferguson Reid
as Detective Black
Benjamin T. Gay
as Court Clerk
Mark Bednarz
as Effingham County Sheriff
Bill Cunningham
as Effingham County Sheriff
Chip Tootle
as Effingham County Sheriff
Sonny Shroyer
as Chatham County Sheriff
Mike Pniewski
as Chatham County Sheriff
L.H. Smith
as Storm Evacuee
Wren Arthur
as Barfly Robin
Vernon E. Jordan Jr.
as Larry Benjamin
Angela Costrini
as Barfly Wren
Gregory H. Alpert
as Barfly Clark
Lydia Marlene
as Tattooed Bartender
Jay S. Pearson
as Chatham County Sheriff
Jin Hi Soucy
as Huey's Patron
Richie Dye
as Huey's Patron
Chad Darnell
as Huey's Patron
Natalie Hendrix
as Television Anchorperson
Gregg Jarrett
as Television Anchorperson
Doug Weathers
as Television Anchorperson
Jeremy Cooper
as Television Weathercaster
Beth Eckard
as Television Weathercaster
Brad Huffines
as Television Weathercaster
Patrick Prokop
as Television Weathercaster
Mike Manhattan
as Television Field Reporter
David Jordan
as Television Field Reporter
George Lyndel Brannen
as Television Field Reporter
Gregory F. Pallone
as Television Field Reporter
Alice Stewart
as Television Field Reporter
Vanessa Young
as Television Field Reporter
Angela Beasley
as Puppeteer
Scott Troughton
as Dredge Worker
Grace Tootle
as Gas Station Attendant
Shane James
as Ricky Butch Banks
Herb Kelsey
as Doss Gang Member
William L. Thorp IV
as Doss Gang Member
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Critic Reviews for The Gingerbread Man

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (11)

Robert Altman the up-and- down director meets John Grisham the constant mediocrity. Just where, in our hypothetical picture, should we place that unlikely scene?

Full Review… | April 25, 2003
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Altman had a fine time composing difficult shots, through screens, bushes and sheets of rain, and Chungwei's images, sometimes delicate, sometimes harsh, stick with you long after you've forgotten their context.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

If you like movies more than you do John Grisham, you can leave the story behind and listen to the filmmaking master class that Altman conducts on the screen.

January 1, 2000
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Unless one counts a few running gibes against lawyers that can easily be imagined coming from Grisham, Altman basically chooses to treat this hackneyed story straight.

January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

There's great pleasure in watching a movie in which the director has thought out everything beforehand.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

With unexpected success, Robert Altman plays a John Grisham mystery in a seductive new key.

January 1, 2000
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Gingerbread Man

Altman even makes this look good. Plus the setting of Savannah helps. A great little performance from Robert Downey Jr. as well.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

½

There is so much wrong with "The Gingerbread Man" that it's no wonder Robert Altman was threatening to disown the film upon it's release. After a bitter fight with Universal over, well, the entire outcome of the film, Altman's sensibilities as a director are scarcely recognizable. Still, the film wouldn't have even been that great if Altman had complete control. The story, from John Grisham, is uninteresting and just plain bizarre. The acting is ham fisted and all those cheesy southern accents don't help, either. From the lame title, to the outlandish yet strangely pedestrian narrative, "The Gingerbread Man" is one of Altman's worst films. But then again, can you even call this a Robert Altman film?

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

½

Altman concocts what may have been a good thriller, but forgets to add the thrills. This is certainly not his genre. Why show us somebody trying to make a phone call to someone and building it up so much when we know that person hasn't got there phone? Especially when it cuts back to the shot of the phone more than once. The cast are great and really manage to salvage what is quite an interesting script until the final twist.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

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