WHAT ABOUT PRINCE DASTAN? @ 21 September 2010 11:23 AM
Jake Gyllenhaal (and his sister Maggie) are the children of Naomi, as in "What About Naomi?"

If you watched the classic original Electric Company back in the '70s (or when it was briefly revived, or on DVD), you know that this was the signature phrase from the brilliant "Love of Chair," a satire of soap operas that was conceived by head writer Paul Dooley. Every installment of this sketch ended with the narrator saying, as the organ music dramatically paused, "And...what about Naomi?"

It was an inside joke. The real Naomi was Children's Television Workshop staffer Naomi Foner, who years later gave birth to the two young stars. What does this have to do with The Prince of Persia? Well, it gives Jake Gyllenhaal a few extra points with me even though this movie somehow falls short of what it could be. He seems like a sincerely good fellow, and even took the time to appear in promos and on talk shows to promote this film, something that some stars who cash huge Disney's paychecks don't bother to do.

As a workout video, The Prince of Persia is better than any of those Jane Fonda VHS tapes. Jake earns his abs in scene after scene. It's a shame that the script did not offer him as much of a challenge. We never really get to know, or really care much about, the lead characters. The first 30 minutes is almost solid exposition, overloaded with political business and intrigue, before the fantasy of the magic dagger and the romance of the lovely and independent Princess and Dastan get underway.

The two leads seem to have some chemistry but an awful lot of epic furniture gets in their way. I have to wonder how the script must have been before it was meddled with by all the chefs, concerned about the obviously huge budget paying off and making sure the kitchen sink wasn't left out.

It's a fine cast with always great performances by Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina, spectacular production values on a level with DeMille and a fine score by Harry Gregson-Williams.



Maybe the summer was too hot here in Florida for me to find the film's setting very appealing. The short documentary included with the DVD (the Blu-Ray also includes a deleted scene and an interactive feature) tells us that the temperatures were over 100 degrees and this discomfort comes across in the film -- though apparently producer Jerry Bruckheimer stayed nice and cool in the studio where he taped his comments with a superimposed background behind him!

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