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Film / Message in a Cell Phone

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Message in a Cell Phone is a 2000 mystery film released on VHS and later on DVD. The film is aimed at pre-teens, and was shot in St. George, Utah.

The film starts with the trial of the drug enforcement officer Mitchell Patterson, who is imprisoned for smuggling drugs, though he insists it was a set-up by corrupt officers. Later, his 11-year-old son Chase and his friends Jeremy and Mac go for a swim at a nearby hotel pool. Chase finds that some guy left his cell phone by the pool and tries to return it, but he hears gunshots inside the hotel room and panics. Chase and his friends learn that the cell phone belongs to Felix Reiser, a drug enforcement officer, and that there appears to be an important message behind a pass-phrase. Meanwhile, a man named Snyder is determined to get that phone and delete the message.


Message in a Cell Phone contains the following tropes:

  • 555: The cellphone's number is 555-2324. The message mentions the number (702) 555-3222.
  • Big Bad: Snyder is the "man in charge" of the drug drop operation, who's helped by Harry.
  • Bland-Name Product: The cell phone in the intro is from "Yolkia Technologies", a play on Nokia Technologies.
  • Blatant Burglar: After the bad guys learn who Chase is, Harry breaks into the Pattersons' house wearing a ski mask and demands the phone.
  • Bowdlerise: The "gunshots" in the film sound more like laser rays than actual guns.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Mac tries to sit by some ladies at the pool, but they quickly move to stop him. In the pool he tries to approach a girl, but his Nose Nuggets scare her away.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Chase randomly gets in possession of a cell phone with a message which exonerates his father from criminal charges.
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  • Dirty Cop: Snyder, the captain of the Drug Enforcement Agency, is also involved in a drug smuggling operation. He gets other officers to get the phone from Chase.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Felix has a butterfly tattoo. The kids later use this to tell if a woman claiming to be his wife is actually who she says she is.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The kids need to Keep Away the cell phone from a woman claiming to be Felix's wife and they end up on a bed. Jeremy holds down her legs, Mac sits on her back to pin her left hand, while Chase wrestles it out of her other. They are full clothed.
  • Easily Overheard Conversation: Mac and Jeremy look for clues in the hotel room and find a gun. At the same time they get a call and exclaim that they found a gun which must have been used to shoot "the fat guy". The fake Felix hears this and is confused at first, but he later figures it out.
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  • El Spanish "-o": Mac approaches some Hispanic cleaner ladies by saying "excusada me" (excuse me) and tries to ask them where the "swimma poola" (swimming pool) is. Chase and Jeremy use the opportunity to hide in their laundry carts.
  • Fat Comic Relief: During the Pool Scene, the girls pick up the main characters to throw them in the pool, but when they get to Jeremy, he's too fat for them to pick up.
  • Frameup: Chase's dad is jailed because a corrupt police officer framed him in a drug operation.
  • Good All Along: The man who pretended to be Felix and the woman who pretended to be Felix's wife are just officers following orders. In the end they rescue Chase from Harry.
  • "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music:
    • The opening notes from this song play when Jeremy asks the guy claiming to be Felix Reiser why he needs the cell phone when he already has one. It happens again when the kids ask him who the guy from the pool is.
    • It also plays when Mac asks a woman claiming to be Felix's wife if Felix had any birthmarks, scars, or tattoos on his body.
  • Keep Away: The woman claiming to be Felix's wife fails the Trust Password, so the kids have to stop her from getting the phone, first by tossing it around in a circle.
  • Kid-anova: The three main characters all have a thing for the ladies, though Mac is always trying to impress the ladies.
  • MacGuffin: The cell phone and its message, which is hidden behind the pass-phrase 2446373 (CHINESE).
  • Man Bites Man: Chase bites the fingers of the Blatant Burglar who's chasing him.
  • The Mole: Harry is first introduced as an ally to the Pattersons, but it's later revealed that he's working directly with the Big Bad.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Jeremy has a dream where he's fishing and he catches the cell phone. He wakes up in a sweat when the man with the butterfly tattoo asks for it, though he doesn't fling up.
  • Nose Nuggets: Mac starts flirting with a girl at the pool, but she just looks at him strangely. He interprets this as a sign that she likes him, but he soon finds out he actually has visible snot coming out his nose.
  • Oral Fixation: Jeremy usually has a lollipop.
  • Pool Scene: The kids go swimming at a pool.
  • Searching the Stalls: Harry searches through the stalls in the bathrooms to find Chase, who manages to evade detection by quickly moving between stalls.
  • Signature Item Clue: Felix's body is holding a button from his killer.
  • Slippery Swimsuit: This happens to Jeremy when he's diving, and all the girls at the pool start giggling. Jeremy later comments that his swimsuit is too big.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Chase thinks he hears a gunshot in a hotel room and convinces his friends they have to investigate.
  • Trust Password: Mac asks a woman claiming to be Felix's wife if her spouse had any birthmarks, scars, or tattoos. She fails the test, so they refuse to give her the phone.
  • Wham Line: Jeremy is shocked to hear his father's name when he first goes to the hotel room to return the cell phone.
    Harry: Gonna be a hero like Mitchell Patterson, huh? Look where it got him.
  • You Meddling Kids: A non-villainous example. The guy who previously pretended to be Felix turns out to be a good guy, and he gives credit to the three main kids for bringing Snyder to justice.

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