First released in 2003, Phone Booth is a good film.
Now, I know that you’re probably thinking, “Okay, that’s good, Lisa. There were a lot of good films released in 2003. I can’t think of any off the top of my head but let me go look on Wikipedia and I’m sure I can come back with a few dozen good films and…”
Well, before you go over to Wikipedia and do a search on 2003 in film (and I even included a direct link to make it easy for you because I like to be helpful), allow me to point something else out about Phone Booth.
Phone Booth is not only a good film but it’s a good film that was directed by Joel Schumacher!
That’s right! There are several online film critics who will tell you that Joel Schumacher is one of the worst directors of all time and, to be honest, there’s actually a pretty good argument that can be made in support of that. However, Schumacher did direct both The Lost Boys and Phone Booth. So, he’s directed at least two good films and that’s two more than Uwe Boll.
In Phone Booth, Colin Farrell plays Stu, a slick publicist who has both a wife named Kelly (Radha Mitchell) and a girlfriend named Pam (Katie Holmes). When Stu steps into the last remaining phone booth in New York City in order to call his girlfriend, he’s shocked when a pizza deliveryman shows up and attempts to give him a pizza. No sooner has he gotten rid of the pizzaman (and, seriously, who turns down free pizza?), the phone rings. Stu answers and is told by an unseen sniper (voice by Kiefer Sutherland) that, if he leaves the phone booth, he will be shot. The sniper goes on to order Stu to tell the truth to both Kelly and Pam or to risk being shot as a consequence.
While all of this is going on, a group of prostitutes demand that Stu get out of the booth and let them use the phone. When Stu refuses, their pimp approaches the booth and is promptly gunned down by the sniper. Soon, under the assumption that Stu has a weapon, the police — led by Forest Whitaker — have surrounded the booth and are demanding that Stu step out. The sniper, however, reminds Stu that he’ll be shot if he leaves the booth.
As a crowd of onlookers (including Pam and Kelly), police, and reporters surround the booth, Stu finds himself literally with no escape…
Telling the story in real time and keeping the film largely focused on Stu’s increasing desperation, Schumacher actually does a pretty good job with Phone Booth. Colin Farrell gives a great performance, making Stu into a character who you like despite yourself. While Kiefer Sutherland never appears onscreen, his sexy growl of a voice works wonders and he even manages to sell the point where his character starts to maniacally laugh. Reportedly, screenwriter Larry Cohen came up with the idea for Phone Booth way back in the 1960s. It took nearly 40 years for the film to be made but Schumacher, Farrell, and Sutherland made it more than worth the wait.