Held Up (1999) / Comedy-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language, violence and sensuality
Running Time: 89 min.
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Nia Long, Barry Corbin, Eduardo Yanez, John Cullum, Sarah Paulson, Jake Busey, Sam Gifaldi, Michael Shamus Wiles, Roselyn Sanchez, Diego Fuentes, Julie Hagerty, Dalton James
Director: Steve Rash
Screenplay: Jeff Eastin
Review published December 10, 2005
If one were to condense the running time of Held Up to only those parts that are funny or essential to the story, one might have a hilarious 15-minute short, perhaps appropriate to be converted into a skit on "In Living Color", or something similar. With about 75 additional minutes of unfunny filler, this vehicle's value evaporates to the point of being strictly for Foxx's biggest fans. Although Foxx manages to ad-lib enough funny moments to keep this from the movie abyss, better material for the rest of the players would have helped immensely. It's a one-joke premise, wholly predictable and in many ways tired. You'll probably spend more time yawning instead of laughing.
Foxx (Ali, Shade) stars as Mike Dawson, who, while traveling through Arizona on vacation with his girlfriend Rae (Long, Stigmata), gets into a heated argument which leads to her hitching a ride to the nearest airport. Mike wants to chase after her to get her back, but his car is stolen from the gas station he is filling his tank at, and he has only six hours to figure out a way to get to the airport before she leaves him for good. Mishap after mishap occurs to prevent him from succeeding, the worst of which leads to Mike and others being held hostage in a botched robbery of the gas station mini-mart. With nervous cops and anxious SWAT officers ready to take people out for the slightest motion, Mike has to figure out a way for a happy medium, while the clock ticks down in his relationship.
Foxx is too good for the material, and probably the rest of the cast as well, as the only real enjoyment there is in watching Held Up comes from the likeability of the performers and some of their interactions. The insipid plot, which is your typical hostage comedy, is never presented in an interesting fashion, while Mike's attempts to get to the airport provide more irritation than comic value. It's lazy, farfetched, and without much to hold it together, and perhaps worst of all, what little conflicts do arise are terribly annoying.
Held Up has its funny moments, but not enough to save this from the list of misfires that studios keep churning out trying to find a vehicle for a hot new up-and-coming comedian. My advice, if you absolutely must see it, is to watch it for the first twenty or thirty minutes, where most of the laughs occur, and to tune out when boredom begins to set in, as the laughs become more sparse, and desperate, as it goes along.
©2005 Vince Leo