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Monday, January 9,2012

Screening room

Here’s one ‘Trespass’ you shouldn’t forgive

by James Sanford
“Would you shut up?” one of the villains barks in “Trespass.” “You’re taking all the air out of the room — air that other people could do good things with!”

If you think that’s a clumsy and mind-bogglingly lame line, wait until you hear the rest of the dialogue in Karl Gajdusek’s screenplay, which often sounds as if it was written in Swedish, translated into Japanese and then translated yet again into English — using one of those cheap hand-held translation devices.

You won’t believe your ears. Frequently, you won’t believe your eyes, either.

Despite the presence of two Oscar winners — Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman — and director Joel Schumacher (“Tigerland,” “Flatliners”), it’s no mystery why “Trespass” is being shuttled to pay-per-view after a truncated run in a few theaters.

If you’ve ever seen “The Desperate Hours,” you’ll already have an idea of what transpires in “Trespass.” Kyle (Cage) and Sarah (Kidman) are an upscale couple, living with their petulant teenage daughter, Avery (Liana Liberato of “Trust”), in what looks like Architectural Digest’s idea of a fortress. Sarah designed their posh prison; Kyle is a gem dealer peddling “diamonds for oil men’s mistresses,” we’re told, that are “whiter than the snow on Mount Fuji.”

While Sarah and Kyle spend another evening realizing that their marriage is quickly heading to the ICU, Avery sneaks away to attend a swinging party where the guests say things like, “It’s all Kool-Aid, son!” So she misses out on the arrival of some unexpected callers, who rough up Sarah and Kyle while looking for some jewels stashed away in Kyle’s safe.

No, wait: Perhaps what they really want is a kidney because the head thug’s mom was an abused wife who finally went into renal failure and now needs a transplant. Or maybe this has something to do with the day Sarah may or may not have enjoyed a little afternoon delight with Jonah (Cam Gigandet), the hunkiest hostage-taker in Hollywood history.

“Your filthy lust invited them in!” Kyle sputters to a shocked Sarah.

If Kyle and Sarah are slightly out of whack, however, their captors are truly nutty. For some reason, they’ve brought along Petal (Jordana Spiro), a stripper who is more interested in smoking crack and raiding Sarah’s wardrobe. You can tell this is a Joel Schumacher film because when Petal finally picks out a suitable evening gown, it’s exactly the same shade of Oriental Health Spa Purple as Kyle’s hideous necktie; Schumacher’s movies may not always be good, but they are always carefully color-coordinated.

When it comes to picking up quick paychecks for making junk, Cage has become the Michael Caine of his generation, so it’s not especially startling to see him maneuvering stiffly through another role while speaking in that spray-starched voice he uses whenever he feels a script is beneath him. It’s anybody guess why Kidman signed on, however, unless she was actively looking for a part in which she could show off her scream and be slapped around at regular intervals.

Even with a running time of under 90 minutes, “Trespass” has to resort to padding out its plot, so Schumacher provides us with multiple takes of the scene in which Jonah emerges from a swimming pool — in slow-motion, naturally — to surprise Sarah. There’s also an absurdly drawn-out finale that features a blizzard of bucks that look suspiciously like Monopoly money. Perhaps Kyle and Sarah’s cash ain’t nothing but trash — “Trespass” certainly is.
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