On the Hollywood thriller Richter scale, Phone Booth doesn’t mess around and it’s certainly not what you’d expect from a story rumored to be an unmade Hitchcock scenario. After a curious bit of MTV business (from a satellite in orbit to the phone lines running above and beneath Times Square: communication = lots of noise!), bad-ass NYC publicist Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell doing a mean Mexican-Irish accent) incurs the wrath of God (think of the Moviefone operator, only more deep-throated) while standing inside a phone booth on 53rd Street and 8th Avenue. Because Joel Schumacher hardly leaves Farrell’s face, all communication between Stu and those outside his direct line of vision occurs via Picture in Picture (read: lazy and annoying). Kiefer Sutherland’s preening voice of reason never cracks though he purportedly has his finger on a rifle’s trigger for some 80-odd minutes straight. For any critic ever shut out of an advanced screening, you already know that publicists can be scumbags. Therefore, take Phone Booth as an easy, breezy, dopey act of contrition. May have worked better as an ‘80s parable or with Larry Cohen behind the camera but it gets the juices pumping nonetheless (gotta love those 8th Avenue whores rattling Stu’s booth). Indeed, the closest point of comparison may be a quickie blowjob: lots of bang for your buck if not quickly forgotten.
Fox Home Entertainment presents Phone Booth in its original 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen on this DVD edition of the film (a separate 4:3 full screen transfer is included on the second side). The print from which the transfer was struck is appropriately dark and colors are generally excellent, but skin tones are on the soft side and edge enhancement is noticeable throughout. The Dolby Digital surround track is an explosive one. Though very much dialogue-driven, the film features a punchy score and invigorating sound design that's preserved here with slick precision.
An always lascivious-sounding Joel Schumacher provides commentary on this DVD edition of Phone Booth. The director has nothing but respect for his actors (and "background talent") and while his commentary isn't exactly insightful, it's an easy sit considering the film's length. As always, Schumacher reveals more information than anyone ever needed to know. In advising aspiring filmmakers about the difficulties of shooting a film in 10 days, he compares the experience to a time in the 60s when he was putting needles in his arms for five years. Also included here are theatrical trailers for the film and the upcoming Fox Searchlight release Garage Days.
For those into disposable satire and quickie blow-jobs, you can't do much better than Phone Booth.