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Trespass Holds Audiences for Ransom

Can the Academy recall Cage and Kidman's Oscars? Please?

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Put your hands in the air and step away from the Oscar.

I have often fantasized about a SWAT-like unit, working exclusively for the Motion Picture Academy. On a semi-regular basis, it would storm a celebrity compound insisting that actors, let's say Mira Sorvino or Cuba Gooding Jr., for example, surrender their Oscars for acting unbecoming of the Academy.

I think it would be a nice addition to each year's Academy Awards ceremony for a celebrity to be voted off of "Oscar Island." Imagine if right about the two-hour mark, when the ceremony is getting really, really long, an actor is summoned to the stage and forced to surrender his or her statuette. I'm thinking of countless instances when actors show up in an absolute piece of junk, right on the heels of pulling down filmdom's highest honor. My list is pretty long: Roberto Benigni, Kim Basinger, Whoopi Goldberg, Helen Hunt ... need I go on?

I have two new candidates: Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman, who team up in the so-boring-it's-laughable Trespass, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Even the poster and trailer for the psychological thriller boast Cage and Kidman as Academy Award winners. But the film isn't worth the price of admission or, for that matter, a DVD rental. Heck, it's simply not worth 90 minutes of your time. Believe me, I know, I kept checking my watch.

Cage and Kidman unbelievably portray a married couple who face off with violent extortionists. That's it, no nuance and no real subplot. It's quite simply a below-par hostage drama. The plot has played out in dozens of films--some good, some bad--but none worse than Trespass. When the lights came up from the screening I attended, a collective groan swept through the theater.

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It turns out that Cage rarely watches his own films.

"I don't want my movies playing in my house," Cage told the media, including BW, at TIFF.

We could only be so lucky.

As for Kidman, she was nowhere near Toronto, opting not to attend the premiere. My guess is she had a pretty good idea how the movie would be received. I'm also presuming that she was busy counting the dough she pulled in for this lame effort.

And that's really my beef. I don't fault an actor for negotiating a top dollar, but inflated budgets for ridiculously bad movies are becoming more common. And basic economics will prevail: When more bloated flops are produced, fewer movies will be funded, making it increasingly difficult to green-light good, character-driven, story-rich films. The reported budget for Trespass was $35 million--more than twice the budget for films like The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech.

All in, Cage, Kidman and director Joel Schumacher have long since cashed their Trespass checks. But their work will clutter the nation's screens for the next few weeks.

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