Cover Graphic from The Gingerbread Man
Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Gingerbread Man

MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality, violence and language

Reviewed by: Debbie James

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
1 hr. 94 min.

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Robert Duvall, Tom Berenger | Director: Robert Altman | Released by: Polygram

Having seen most of John Grisham’s book-to-movie dramas, I felt this would be an enjoyable film. Unfortunately, “The Gingerbread Man”, yet another remake of a John Grisham book, just doesn’t quite deliver.

This movie is not your typical pro-ethics law drama. Two of the lead male characters, an attorney, Rick Magruder (Kenneth Branagh), and a private investigator, Clyde Pell (Robert Downey, Jr), as well as one of the female leads, Mallory Doss (Embeth Davidtz), are immoral individuals. This, added to the fact that this story is neither compelling nor interesting, gives you a movie where even though it looks like the attorney will solve the case in the end, you really don’t care.

The plot? Rick is a slick Savannah defense attorney; a playboy who lives hard and visits the kids on weekends. One rainy night he meets a mysterious woman outside his office just as her car is being stolen. He offers her a ride home only to arrive and see her car in the driveway and hear her coolly assert that it is her father’s work. He offers to checks the house out and learns of her father’s demented treatment of her (breaking into her house, killing her pet, etc.). Her story brings him to feel compassion, which bring them both to a nearby bed. Rick protects her from then on and throws the weight of the law firm behind them, against the wishes of his cautious associate, Lois Harlan (Daryl Hannah).
—plot summary courtesy of Brian A. Gross

Mallory’s father Dixon Doss (Robert Duvall) is your token creepy, religious-type fanatic (living in a commune in the “boonies” with fellow outcasts of society). In addition to the boring plot and characters, “The Gingerbread Man” also contains a plethora of foul language (50+ instances), a lesbian kiss, full male and female nudity, graphic sexual situations, and several scenes of smoking and social drinking. In addition, several instances of violence and murder (one graphic) are scattered throughout this movie.

Since material of redeeming quality is missing, and the objectionable material is plentiful, this movie is one to avoid.

Year of Release—1998

Viewer Comments
It has been Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, and Matthew McConaughey in the past but it is Kenneth Branagh’s turn to play a patented John Grisham hero. The Gingerbread Man is based on a story written by Mr. Grisham and brought to the screen by Robert Altman (Short Cuts, The Player, Kansas City). …Violent content: A shooting and various snippets of aggression. Sex/Nudity: Scenes with Mallory of full and partial female nudity. Language: Intermittent vulgarity with several obscenities. My Ratings: [1/3]
—Brian A. Gross