Posted in Film

The Sandra Bullock Files #28: Gun Shy (2000)

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The Sandra Bullock Files is a series that looks at the films of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, all the way from her debut in 1987, to her two major 2018 releases, Ocean’s Eight and Bird Box.

It started with Hope Floats. Sandra had been interested in producing from an early point in her career, but not until she learned from Lynda Obst on 1998’s Hope Floats did she start making a claim to her new role in the industry. Even her biggest fans would admit that Sandra’s film work in the late ’90s is not some of her best, and she knew that if she produced more of her own films, she could have more control over her work. After producing her short film Making Sandwiches and executive producing Hope Floats, she finally took on her first project as sole producer — the mob comedy, Gun Shy.

Quietly released in limited release in February 2000, Gun Shy is one of the lesser known Sandra films. Although it stars Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt, and Sandra, in a small role, the movie is rather bland and unremarkable. It also hasn’t aged well, feeling like it was shot in the early ’90s. The writer/director Eric Blakeney has gone on to write and direct… nothing, and Neeson practically sleepwalks through his part. There are some mildly funny moments, and the quirky story has promise, but the film never takes off.

Neeson plays an undercover DEA agent who is trying to take down a Columbian cartel and a New York mob family. He seems confident on the outside but inside he’s suffering from gastrointestinal problems, a character quality that doesn’t exactly make for exciting viewing (unless you like watching an attractive actor like Neeson poop every few minutes). This condition leads him to visiting the beautiful “enema Queen” played by Sandra. This is probably the only movie made in which the boy and girl have a Meet Cute through colonic irrigation, so Gun Shy at least has that going for it. Platt also has fun with a cheesy mob boss role, and gives the proceedings a much-needed jolt of energy.

The main problem with the movie is that it tries to do too much. It tries to be a mob flick, a romantic comedy, an action film, a psychological study. Unlike other films that successfully combine genres, Gun Shy never knows which way to go, which makes for a frustrating viewing experience. And unfortunately for Sandra fans, her part in the movie is limited and rather unnecessary; the romantic subplot feels tacked on and thrown in simply to get her in the movie.

While it must be commended that Sandra was able to get her first feature film project as sole producer off the ground, Gun Shy is not her best work. Sandra would go on to produce the much better Miss Congeniality later the same year, but the majority of her success in the following decade would be her dramatic acting in films like Crash, Infamous, and The Blind Side, and not her producing projects.

It must be said, however, that even though Gun Shy isn’t top rate, the soundtrack, which Sandra also produced, is fantastic. It features music by James Brown, Los Lobos, Push Stars, and Bob Schneider, whose music video “Round & Round” featured Sandra in a cameo. Also, Sandra’s own mother Helga Bullock, who passed away a few weeks after Gun Shy was released, has a haunting track on the CD titled “Caro Mio Ben.”

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Best Scene: Sandra gives Neeson an enema.

Best Line: “Lucky Charms, magically delicious!”

Fun Facts

With a budget of $10 million, Gun Shy ended its box office run with only $1.6 million.

At one point in the film, Sandra boards a bus numbered 2525, a clever reference to Speed.

Richard Schiff, who appeared in a small part in Speed, plays Elliot in this film. He was also in Forces of Nature.

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