Last night there were several original movies on TV. HBO had the classy and well-reviewed Peter Sellers biopic. The Hallmark Channel had a comforting middlebrow fantasy called The Five People You Meet in Heaven with Jon Voigt. And TNT had the cheesy Da Vinci Code/Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Anyone who knows me will know immediately that I went for the cheesey rip-off.
And I even watched all of it, though I was thinking all the time, "This is what we've come to. Starting with National Treasure, and now this, every movie made for the next ten years will be the same." And I was also thinking, "What a piece of crap."
But, as I said, I watched it.
There's no need to summarize the plot, since it makes very little (if any) sense. I kept watching mainly, I think, in hopes to see the rest of Kelly Hu's Serpent Brotherhood tattoo. (Ms. Hu, by the way, was seriously under-used in the movie. She was great in her few scenes.)
There's no need to comment on the special effects. I've already said, "cheesey." That about covers it. If you could, for even a second or two, have believed that the stars (Noah Wyle and Sonya Walger, who has the best line in the movie) were walking over an actual bridge anywhere near an actual waterfall in one of the big scenes, you might have bought into the movie. But you couldn't believe it. Not even for a second or two.
There was one point, however, at which I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Almost. The big martial-arts scene at the movie's climax features some of the lamest fighting I've seen since Diana Rigg turned in her leather suit. But even at that, to see Bob Newhart as a martial artist was worth sitting through the other two hours of the movie. Almost.
Actually, if you can overlook the ridiculous plot and the cheesey effects, the cast is pretty good. Wyle is appealing as a geeky librarian, and Walger is aces as his hardboiled protector. I've mentioned Kelly Hu. Newhart is fine, as always. Jane Curtin has a small but entertaining role. Poor Kyle MacLachlan, though, must have needed the money. Desperately. Or maybe he just enjoyed being pure Virginia ham.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss two hours good-bye.