BOTTOM LINE: This film is absolutely appalling. How this talented group of actors could come together and work on this rubbish is bewildering. Avoid this film at all costs.
THE GOOD: Not much. Even in the worst films I try to offer some positive comments but aside from seeing this collection of actors together on screen, this film has not got much going for it. The story, revolving around Jabez Stone’s (Alec Baldwin) contract with the Devil (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to sell his soul for success and fame is your standard old-fashioned Devil story that can work no matter how many times it is told (but does not here). The main theme of the film is embedded in the title: there is no shortcut to happiness, a fact which comes back to haunt Jabez Stone when he realises the success he has been given is hollow and without meaning. The film has a strong starting-off point, but from there… it’s all downhill.
THE BAD: This film apparently cost 25 million dollars to make and its an absolute travesty; it looks like a $50 movie shot with mother’s video camera. If I were a filmmaker struggling to get funding, I would be appalled by films like these. Although the directing credit states Harry Kirkpatrick, this is actually a pseudonym for Alec Baldwin, and I can see why he would not want his name on it. The film had a very troubled production (apparently shot in 2001 but not released until 2004 due to legal wrangling, bankruptcies and interference), but that is no real excuse given the calibre of talent involved. Every scene is poorly shot and constructed, the characters are drawn thin and plain ridiculous, and a completely silly third act where Stone goes on trial for his soul bares no resemblance in tone to the rest of the film and feels hastily patched on. Given Baldwin held the directorial reigns, it may make sense that an actor of the calibre of Anthony Hopkins would be willing to jump in, but he must have seen the writing on the wall with this one. Perhaps the biggest tragedy in the cast is Dan Aykroyd; he’s no Anthony Hopkins but his performance and character are downright embarrassing. “Shortcut to Happiness” is a woeful film. Avoid it all costs.
For the original review, follow this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/filmreviewshortcuttohappiness.htm
Todd Murphy is a staff reviewer at the film/DVD review web site, All About Movies.net – for all the latest reviews on the newest releases. He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog: http://www.filmannex.com/Digicosm