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A Pretty Stupid Premonition

Published March 15, 2007 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Columbia Pictures.
Premonition Poster Premonition
Premonition is so stupid it makes The Lake House look like Memento. Let's not even get into the fact that time travel isn't the same as a foreboding of future events. Or that it's about living the days of a week out of order, but we're never given a base of when this started (what, she just went to bed Saturday and woke up Wednesday, then started working back?) This is just a phenomenally stupid movie.

Movie Review: Premonition


Here goes my attempt: Linda (Sandra Bullock) is bouncing back and forth within a week of her life. At some point, her husband Jim (Julian McMahon) dies in a car crash on a local town road. So going back and forth between days he's alive and days she's already planning his funeral, she tries to figure out how to save him.

If you don't already know what the movie is about from the trailer, it won't be hard to figure out you're not just watching the grieving process of a recent widow. First of all, Julian McMahon is second billed. So he's coming back. But even the banal execution of movie clichés tells you.

Though the first 20 minutes deal exclusively with the day after the Jim's death, it's clear they're setting up clues like the answering machine message that will pay off later. Also, the music swells so much it's like Thrillers for Dummies. The first time she slowly approaches the kitchen where Jim's jacket is hanging off the banister and there's a man with his back turned to the camera… dude, we know where you're leading.

Then you start seeing payoffs that don't really pay off anything. Getting stopped by the same cop who will report her husband's death is neat, but it's just his job. It doesn't inform the mystery.


It takes her so f***ing long to figure this out too. Look, the Yellow Page for the doctor is torn out one day, then still there the next. Her daughter has stitches one day, then Linda sees how she got injured. But most importantly, the doctor has her committed and she hears him talking about when she came into his office ranting and raving… AND SHE STILL GOES TO HIS OFFICE AFTER THIS.

Not that the film maintains any continuity of its own. You see the mirrors covered on the day after Jim's death, then the event that led them to cover the mirrors days before. But on days in between, like the day OF Jim's death, the mirrors are bare. Besides the fact that the reason their kid got stitches happened before Jim's death, and Linda first discovers the scars at the wake, but the day OF Jim's death she's fine.

It takes her an hour into the movie to make a chart of what happens on each day and by then she's only got two left. Even if you take into account that such a strange occurrence would be overwhelming to a real person, i.e. not a movie character, if she didn't think she was crazy, she certainly should keep all her crazy talk to herself. I mean, there's one option, commit yourself because it is an insane reality. But, if you're buying into it, don't start telling people on Monday that your husband is already dead. That's what leads to the big needles.

Linda is never proactive. She just keeps going through the motions when all she had to do was, on the days before Jim's death, START CHANGING THINGS! How about, don't tear out the phone book page. Just copy the number on a post it. Or better yet, DON'T EVEN START SEEING THE DOCTOR WHO EVENTUALLY COMMITS YOU! Hell, just give Jim a few safety tips. Take a different road. Just leave 10 minutes later. Even when she makes her chart, she keeps setting things up for herself. And if it's supposed to be deep that there are moments she considers letting nature take its course, it's not deep. She's just too stupid to figure out that when she wakes up on Sunday, she can already undo the whole f***ing week!

It's all so arch and serious too. There is not one moment of levity or joke at the inaccurate concept. Thinking of serious time travel movies, even The Butterfly Effect had some humor. The awkward prosthetic limbs and frat boy sequences at least showed that they still knew they were asking us to take a big leap. Premonition is so proud of itself and it has no right to be.

There are also some just plain laughable moments. The pall bearers fumbling with the casket when Linda is freaking out are just embarrassingly setting up a spill, and the implied head roll is just stupid. We've seen decapitations on network television. You're telling us we can't see it in a PG-13?

Obviously, I'm more heated than usual in this review. The profanity was necessary because that is the level of stupidity we're dealing with her. This is only my opinion and I begrudge no one who finds this whole thing fascinating. I just feel like we're dealing with competent creative people here. Sandra Bullock is at a level where she can control her material. Even to get a screenplay to her means you have to have cut through a lot of the competition. Time travel gets a lot of forgiveness in movies too. No one complains about the paradoxes of Bill and Ted. It's just… I'm sorry, I'm done.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Columbia Pictures.
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