By Noel Clay
from Colchester, England
, 24 Nov 2004
A werewolf movie starring Jack Nicholson? Sounds great! But what's that? Set in a publishing company? How is that going to work?
Well, the truth is it works surprisingly well. Nicholson plays an editor who is being replaced by a younger, more ruthless man at his company. At first he's ready to simply accept it with quiet dignity, but as he's been bitten by a wolf the night before, he begins to undergo some radical changes and suddenly finds himself having the energy to fight for his position at the company and for the love of his boss' daughter. However, he also finds that he has the urge to hunt and kill at nighttime, and becomes terrified of the monster he carries inside. It's really an intelligent little story about a kind of mid-life crisis which was appreciated by the likes of Roger Ebert and various other respected film buffs.
However ... critics aside, this isn't exactly a very popular movie. Most people just find it dull and uninteresting, with elements of several genres thrown together in a big mess. I can kind of see where they're coming from ... it's a little dull in places, and probably could have been cut down by at least fifteen minutes or so, but to be honest I was never that bored watching it. Wolf is much more intelligent than most werewolf movies, and does have a few interesting ideas and metaphors that haven't really been done before in werewolf movies. The ending is a little peculiar, and in a completely different tone to the rest of the movie, but it's made up for by a pretty cool twist.
The reason Mike Nichols is such a hit-and-miss director is because he seems to make films that he cares about, which aren't necessarily aimed at a particular audience. Generally they do seem to find one somewhere, though, and I expect there are plenty of people out there who will enjoy this film as much as I did, or even more. Jack Nicholson is great as always. There are moments of that old hilarious, energetic Jack that we saw a lot of through the seventies and eighties, but mostly it's the sombre, ageing character that he often gets cast as these days. He does both of them very well, and I don't think anyone else would have been more suited for the part. James Spader is good is the slimy villain of the story, and Michelle Pfeiffer is her usual confident femme fatale character.
Though it may not be everyone's cup of tea, Wolf is a smart, fairly enjoyable twist on the werewolf genre.
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