By Scott Brown
July 11, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Phone Booth: Chistine Loss
  • Movie

Hungry for some facile, heavy-handed preaching without the stigma of an evangelical thriller? Try Phone Booth, director Joel Schumacher’s high-concept morality play about a scurrilous publicist named Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) pinned down at a pay phone by a righteous sniper (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, whose silkily stilted delivery makes him sound like he’s competing in the world’s cheesiest poetry slam). Framed for murder by his unseen assailant, our latter-day Sidney Falco can neither leave the booth — located in the heart of New York City’s Retired Stereotype District, ringed with the hooker and pimp caricatures of yesteryear — nor explain the situation to the police without risking a hail of bullets.

Of course, Stu deserves this: He’s guilty of lying (ooh!), lusting in his heart (ahh!), and murdering a Bronx accent — and soon the media circus is on hand to broadcast his true confessions to the world. Problem is, a guy like Stu (whose chief offense is ”the sin of spin,” we’re cornily informed) would probably enjoy the attention — in the world of reality TV, all publicity is good publicity, right? Here’s a really scary thought: What if you threw a crisis of conscience and nobody came?