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Film

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Not as snort-worthy as Backdraft, Ladder 49 is a serviceable testament to the firemen who would bravely risk their lives to protect the safety of others, etc., etc. The movie follows rookie Jack (Joaquin Phoenix) from hazing to heroism, through courtship with a juicy jeweler (Jacinda Barrett) and onward to fatherhood, when parental love almost supersedes his testosterone-driven altruism. Never mind that the central couple doesn’t generate much heat, or that Barrett seems strangely unconcerned with the dangers inherent in her husband’s job. Never mind that neither Phoenix nor veteran fireman-cum-group therapist John Travolta really has the physique for this line of work, or that the rest of the company (best friend Morris Chestnut, resident asshole Robert Patrick) seems as phony as a toy fire truck. Just sit back and enjoy the movie’s warm glow. And for a real meditation on the existential dilemmas of the firefighter, see I Huckabees.

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