PG-13 for language, and some crude and sexual humor.
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julia Roberts, John Cusack,
Billy Crystal, Hank Azaria, Christopher Walken,
Stanley Tucci, Alan Arkin, Seth Green, Larry King
Joe Roth (Revenge of the Nerds II)
Charles Newirth & Peter Tolan
Billy Crystal & Peter Tolan
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America's Sweethearts Sours On Screen
By Laura Bagby
CBN.com - Gwen
Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Traffic) and Eddie Thomas (John
Cusack, High Fidelity), once the favorite silver screen couple
and blockbuster duo, have experienced a serious lag in their careers since
their marital breakup. After the separation, the obsessive and melancholy
Eddie sought counsel from a New Age, mountaintop rehabilitation center,
while the selfish Diva Gwen turned to her Latin lover, the lisping Hector
(Hank Azaria, Mystery, Alaska), and her sister and able assistant,
Kiki (Julia Roberts, The Mexican), to satisfy her every whim.
Now, several years later, studio executive Dave Kingman (Stanley Tucci,
Joe Gould's Secret) is in charge of promoting the couple's last
film. There is only one problem: He has never seen the film. In fact,
Kingman won't get to see the finished product until the junket, when the
final version of the film will be released to the press by the quirky
and flaky director Hal Weidmann (Christopher Walken, Joe Dirt),
who claims that his film is "the most honest thing he has ever done".
Staving off questions from nosy journalists, Kingman begs public relations expert Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal, Analyze This) to get Gwen and Eddie back together for a publicity spread.
While Phillips and his cinematically challenged PR assistant (Seth Green, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) spin tales of the couple's recent reunion, things get heated as Gwen and Eddie jockey for fan affections, Hector tries to maintain his possession of Gwen, Kiki opts to live her own life outside of Gwen's control, and Eddie must decide between getting back with Gwen or pursuing a relationship with the recently beautified Kiki.
Don't waste your money on this one.
Despite the fact that it had all the potential of being a great star vehicle, the movie was a disappointment. You would think that by getting funny man Billy Crystal together with screen favorite Julia Roberts and loveable cynic John Cusack and curvacious siren Catherine Zeta-Jones, not to mention screen veteran Christopher Walken, you would have the stuff of a great film. Throw in some comic moments and a romantic twist and voila! you've got yourself a box office hit, right? Normally, yes. But first the characters must be likeable and convincing.
Unfortunately, Julia Roberts suffers from being typecast. Roberts is the epitome of the sexy, beautiful, and vulnerable leading lady, and as such, she, more than Zeta-Jones is truly "America's sweetheart". But in this film, Roberts is first portrayed as the unattractive, fat, and nerdy underdog Kiki. Does anyone really want to see Julia Roberts as fat? She looks just as uncomfortable in her fat suit as we feel watching her on screen. We are used to seeing her svelte figure. It's like asking our parents or grandparents if they would like to see Carey Grant play a murderer. You just don't do it.
And then Billy Crystal is cast as the double-crossing PR director who is only out for his own gain. He is not the sympathetic character we thought he was, nor is he as likeable as we had hoped. That's strike two.
Frank Azaria started strong as the very funny, lisping Spaniard (a la The Birdcage). Unfortunately, as the film progresses, he becomes best known for obsessing about the size of his genitals. This juvenile, bathroom humor puts a damper on an otherwise enjoyable character. Strike three.
There are also key moments in the film that are simply unbelievable. The day after sleeping with Eddie, Kiki gains the strength to leave her servile position as Gwen's long-suffering assistant. After years of being a co-dependent yes woman, I highly doubt that Kiki would be able to stand up for herself to that extent and that quickly. The audience needs more time for that radical change, as well as the quick change in Eddie.
Eddie suddenly realizes that he is in love with Kiki. But just days before, he was still obsessing about getting back together with Gwen. It is hard to fathom that this unstable character who is prone to rebound could actually stay together with Kiki long enough to provide a happily-ever-after ending. Thus, viewers aren't sure whether to celebrate the romantic moment or question his intentions. And what is harder still is to celebrate Kiki and Eddie's budding relationship knowing that Eddie was and still is Kiki's brother-in-law, at least until Gwen and Eddie divorce. It's an altogether icky situation.
In conclusion, instead of getting a good-for-laughs, lighthearted date movie, audiences get a pathetic and demystified view of how screen celebrities really live. While making fun of film school flakes, hotheaded divas, and nervous film executives brings some laughs, the thin plot and the fractured fairytale ending ultimately sour the film.
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