The Juror (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Complete spoilers.

The core ingredients of a good movie are present in The Juror. Alec Baldwin is intimidating as a soft-spoken, educated, high IQ hit man. Demi Moore is intimidated, then determined, as the victim of an intricate mafia plot. James Gandolfini is excellent as a low-level wise guy with a compassionate streak.

But the ingredients don't combine properly. The whole is less than the sum of its parts. Part of the problem is that the film sprawls over far too much landscape. In a character-based film, it's OK to stretch the film out over a long running time. When we are really into a character's life, we want to know more about them. In Lost in Translation, I wanted the film to be longer, not shorter. In Once Upon a Time in America, I want to see the original 10 hour cut. But a thriller with the typical implausible elements can't really be stretched ad infinitum. By the nature of the genre, each additional plot twist provides an additional strain on the credulity of the audience. People are willing to put up with one unlikely event, or two, but when it starts to get up near a dozen, well, people have a limited amount of patience, and there is a breaking point.

The original premise wasn't bad at all. A mob boss was on trial. Demi Moore was on the jury. Alec Baldwin played a psychotic mob enforcer who let Demi know that a "not guilty" vote was the only way to save her own life, and her son's. Just to demonstrate the vulnerability of the mother and son, Baldwin and Gandolfini kept popping up everywhere Demi turned, kind of like Waldo. You know the drill. She heads to a museum, Gandolfini is a guard. She goes to a ballgame, Gandolfini is selling hot dogs. She goes to a secluded mountain village in Guatemala, Baldwin is the local priest, speaking fluent Spanish with a proper Guatemalan accent.

OK, I exaggerated a little. That much of the film was actually quite reasonable by the standards of Hollywood thrillers. Demi got convinced that she was trapped and she just didn't know what to do.

But then things got crazy.


Anne Heche showed her breasts in a sex/murder scene.

  • It turns out that Baldwin didn't just want Demi to vote "not guilty". He also insisted that she had to convince the other 11 jurors of the innocence of the accused mobster, even though the guy had actually been recorded ordering the crime, and the prosecution had an airtight case. If she was unable to do so, it was to be curtains for her and the kid.
  • It also turned out that Baldwin had no trouble getting into her guarded hotel room while she was sequestered.
  • On top of all that, Baldwin also had bugs in the jury deliberation room, and heard every word.
  • OK, so Demi managed to convince the jury. Not guilty.
  • Then the mob boss was worried that Demi would waver after the trial, so Baldwin continued to intimidate her. He started out by fucking and killing Demi's best friend (Anne Heche). As far as I can see, that scene served no purpose in the film other than to expose Anne Heche's breasts. Now that I think about it, what better purpose could there be? Baldwin told a funny story on the talk show circuit about this scene. He claimed that Heche was 100% heterosexual until she did this sex scene with him, which turned her against men forever ... er ... temporarily.
  • Then the plot got really crazy, with Demi double-crossing the DA after agreeing to co-operate, then double-crossing Baldwin by getting him caught in a mob war.
  • Then the mob war, which consisted of Alec Baldwin against the Five Families, ended with every mobster in the NY/NJ area dead except Baldwin. He was one tough cookie.
  • Then Baldwin, surviving the double-cross, and knowing that Demi had betrayed him, raced Moore to a remote hamlet in Guatemala, where Demi had stashed her son with a scientist who was studying local customs.
  • Demi missed the plane to Guatemala, but she still managed to get there before Baldwin, by chartering a Guatemalan military plane and hiring the entire Guatemalan army to assist her. Baldwin, flush with his victory over the entire Mafia, was almost able to defeat the entire army of Guatemala as well, but finally lost when Demi broke the tie in O.T. by shooting him with a handgun.

DVD info from Amazon

  • There are two versions of the film, full screen and widescreen 2.35 anamorphic. The widescreen is an adequate transfer, but not spectacular. The full screen is the pan 'n scan variety, and brings no additional value to the DVD

  • no features

If the script had stayed closer to the original premise, a one-on-one psychological thriller pitting Demi against Baldwin, and if the script had made Baldwin into more of an ordinary mortal man rather than a Lex Luthor clone, it might have been a good flick. It had some good moments, and some good ingredients.

As it was, it just piled on more and more incredible Baldwin accomplishments, and it was at the point where it needed the "too silly" guy from Monty Python to break up the sketch.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4. Critics hated it. In a quick scan of the reviews at MRQE, I saw no score higher than 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • It was budgeted at $44 million for production. It was moderately successful, grossing $44 million domestically.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. Big budget Hollywood thriller that was just too rambling and sprawling. I endured the full length of the film without reaching for the FF, but it was beginning to test my patience, and when it was over I felt I had been watching it for days.

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