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Instinct (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 4, 2020



Starring Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, George Dzundza, John Ashton, John Aylward, Thomas Q. Morris, Doug Spinuzza, Paul Bates, Rex Linn, Rod McLachlan and Tracey Ellis.

Screenplay by Gerald DePego.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 126 minutes. Rated R.

There was probably a lot of thought put behind this film.  It was obviously put together with care.

The only question is, why?

Director Jon Turteltaub – with this film and his previous hit Phenomenon – seems to be trying to be the John Bradshaw of film – passing off obvious new-agey viewpoints as if they were original and oh-so-profound.

This film stars Anthony Hopkins as a professor who, after living with baboons for almost two years, becomes primal himself.  The problem is, Hopkins’ character is essentially just a defanged version of his Oscar-winning role of Hannibal Lecter – an animal of a man who is essentially not a threat.

As a brilliant psychiatrist who is trying to get through to Hopkins, Cuba Gooding, Jr. is lost.  He tries to pull off his usual yelling Pepsi-One “Show me the therapy” shtick, but it doesn’t work here.

Eventually, the film becomes a twisted merge of Silence of the Lambs and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The points this movie makes are so obvious – i.e. captivity is bad, freedom is good, anyone or anything that lives in a cage will eventually lose its spirit – that Instinct can’t even work as just being thought-provoking.   It’s more like a two-hour lecture on the evils of civilization.  (5/99)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©1999 All rights reserved. Posted: June 4, 1999.

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