The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
A reader, Rich Gallagher of Fishkill, N.Y., writes to ask why they only remake the good movies, not bad ones. Good films don't require remaking, he observes, but what about "promising concepts which were poorly executed for one reason or another?'' Mr. Gallagher could have been writing about "Cop Land,'' a movie with such a promising concept, so poorly executed, that it begs to be remade. The characters are all over the map, there are too many unclear story threads, our sympathies are confused, and there's an unconvincing showdown in which the story's lovingly developed ambiguities are lost.
The premise: A group of New York cops take part-time jobs as transit policemen in order to get around the requirement that they live in the city. They buy houses in a New Jersey hamlet named Garrison, just across the river. Here they can run the show. Many of them have obtained mortgages from a mob-connected bank, through the good offices of a cop fondly known as Uncle Ray (Harvey Keitel), who is connected.
The town's police force is headed by the plump and half-deaf Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone), who isn't and never will be a "real cop,'' as Uncle Ray tauntingly reminds him. Also on the force is Cindy Betts (Janeane Garofolo), who pulls over Uncle Ray when he's going 71 in a 25-m.p.h. zone, and gets a lecture from him. Ray is so cocky he talks smart to Cindy even though, in the back of his car, he's hiding a rookie cop wanted for questioning in the deaths of two young men.
As the film opens, the rookie (Michael Rapaport), driving while drunk, thinks he sees a rifle pointed at him by two young black men. Actually, it's not a rifle but the Club--a crucial point so poorly established that many viewers will miss it. The cop fires, the kids are killed, and there's no weapon to be found in their car--especially not after a black ambulance attendant gets into a fight with a white cop he sees trying to plant one. In the confusion, the rookie disappears and Uncle Ray announces he has thrown himself from the bridge.