Going to the picture show


These brief reviews were written for the weekly Calendar of The Cambodia Daily in 1996 and 1997. In most cases I never actually saw the movie, but put together the capsule from the comments of other members of the news staff.
You can see an example of the Calendar in my portfolio.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. With Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce taking their drag show on the road through the Australian outback.

Anglagard, 1994, Colin Nutley (Sweden). Confusion reigns as a family tries to figure out who is really related.

Aqui Na Terra, 1993, Joao Botelho (Portugal). A story of disintegration, crime and expiation.

Asterix le Gaulois. 1995. Goscinny and Uderzo's animated Gaul outwits and outfights the Romans, with the help of a magic strength potion (see related coverage of the Olympic Games).

Austrian Tourism & Industrial Films. A grab bag of the wonders of Austria, from historic Vienna to the magical Tyrolean mountain scenery. Your Austrian hosts frolic on the ski slopes, in the casinos and on the fashion catwalk as well. Generous helpings of music -- the lifeblood of the Oberosterreich.

Babe. A triumph of the science of animal training.

Baxter. Jerome Bolvin, 1988. Age 13+ only for this not-so-shaggy dog's tale.

The Birdcage. Robin Williams, Nathan Lane in an unnecessary remake of La Cage aux Folles.

Black Adder. Six episodes of cult-fave Brit vid.

Blue. Juliette Binoche in the first and quickest-paced of Kieslowski's three-colors trilogy. French with English subtitles.

Blue Velvet. Kyle Maclachlan and Isabella Rossellini are terrorized by Dennis Hopper at his evil best as Frank. This is not a good dating movie.

Braveheart. And brave stomach too, if you want to make it through this lengthy Scottish-themed splatterfest in which Mel Gibson spills much English blood.

Braveheart. Brave stomach too, if you want to make it through this lengthy Scottish-themed splatterfest. A mess on the set, but it cleaned up at the Oscars.

Braveheart. Mel Gibson stars in Scottish-themed splatterfest. It made a mess in the studio but cleaned up at the Oscars.

Cape Fear. Guess who's coming to dinner -- it's Robert DeNiro, and he's very, very angry. Not for the faint of heart.

Casablanca. Humphrey and Ingrid hang out in a smoky bar in Morocco.

Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart says, "Play it, Sam," and he does.

Casablanca. Bogie. Bergman. Morocco. Cigarettes. Play it.

Casino. Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci frolic and fornicate in high-rolling Las Vegas.

A Clockwork Orange. 1971 cult favorite based on Anthony Burgess' novel.

Dead Man Walking. Susan Sarandon as a nun who gets mixed up with death-row inmate Sean Penn in Tim Robbins' compelling drama.

Dead Man Walking. Susan Sarandon as a nun who lends support to a man on death row (Sean Penn). Director Tim Robbins raises complex issues -- the death penalty, the purpose of self -- but doesn't really come to grips with them.

Disclosure. Demi Moore goes after Michael Douglas.

Do the Right Thing. A day in Spike Lee's beloved Brooklyn.

Du Bringst Mich Moch Um, 1994, Wolfram Paulus (Austria). An illicit love affair erupts in scandal.

Eline Vere, 1991, Harry Kumel (Netherlands). A young woman decides between stuffy society and the outside world.

L'Enfant Lion. A lion cub and a human boy grow up together in Africa.

Enigma. Martin Sheen and Sam Neil star in a classic tale of political intrigue.

Farewell My Concubine. What it's like to be raised as an orphaned, cross-dressing, opium-addicted Chinese opera singer who has to compete for a man against Gong Li.

Four Weddings and a Funeral. A feel-good movie with Hugh Grant, who knows what feeling good is all about. With Andie MacDowell.

Fried Green Tomatoes. Story of a relationship between women. Lost almost all lesbian elements in the transition from book to movie screen.

Frontline. Three episodes of a "hilarious" Australian comedy about journalists. As if there's anything whatsoever to laugh at.

The Fugitive. Harrison Ford turns the tables on the one-armed man.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly. Gunslinger Clint Eastwood as "The Man With No Name" puts 1996 out of its misery.

The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle. With the Sex Pistols doing it their way.

Hanoi Hilton. endorsed by well-known actor Ronald Reagan.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The perfect occasion to treat your hired nanny to a night at the movies.

Heaven and Hell, 1988, Morten Arnfred (Denmark). A young violinist struggles against social and familial bonds.

How to Make an American Quilt. Women discuss past love affairs, and make some quilts while they're at it. More interesting than some might expect.

In the Name of the Father. With yuppie heartthrob Daniel Day Lewis.

KIDS. Larry Clarke's close look at disaffected youth culture.

KIDS. 24 hours of degradation in the lives of a group of typical modern teenagers.

The King of Comedy. Robert DeNiro as an obsessed fan who kidnaps a bitter, tyrannical version of Jerry Lewis.

The Last of the Mohicans. Intellectuals' darling Daniel Day Lewis fights and loves his way through the French and Indian War. With Madeleine Stowe.

Leaving Las Vegas. Nicholas Cage, Elizabeth Shue. Well-acted drama about alcoholism and despair.

Leaving Las Vegas. An embittered alcoholic (Nicholas Cage) keeps company with a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue). No, it isn't set in Phnom Penh.

Leaving Las Vegas. Quality time is shared by an alcoholic and a prostitute.

Legends of the Fall. Anthony Hopkins as father of three hunky brothers in an implausible fight for a woman. English with Chinese subtitles.

Little Buddha. Director Bernardo Bertolucci lets Keanu Reeves explain Buddhist philosophy to you.

Lord Jim. Classic Peter O'Toole film shot at Angkor Wat and Kep.

La Machine. 1995, Francois Dupeyron. Gerard Depardieu as a crazed psychiatrist. Must be based on the kitchen device hawked on 1970s late-night TV (it slices, it dices -- look at that tomato!).

Les Miserables. Nazi-occupied France is the scene for Claude Lelouch's adaptation of the Victor Hugo epic. With Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Les Miserables. Those pesky Nazis are at it again, but they've got their hands full with baguette burglar Jean-Paul Belmondo. Claude Lelouch's update of the Victor Hugo novel.

Mission Impossible. Hollywood cannibalizes television's past once again, this time with fairly good results.

Murder in the First. Another topical choice, as prisoner Kevin Bacon tries to win his freedom from Alcatraz, the T3 of San Francisco. With Christian Slater and Gary Oldman.

Muriel's Wedding. Toni Collette. Australian hopes for freedom through shackles of matrimony, and listens to Abba.

Naked. Pathetic wretches stagger about in London and show each other very little courtesy.

Nick of Time. Johnny Depp running and Christopher Walken in this John Badham thriller.

Night on Earth. Hip director Jim Jarmusch takes you for taxi rides in Helsinki, Paris, Rome, LA and New York. All taxis with four wheels.

Night on Earth. Director Jim Jarmusch keeps picking up the pace in each of his successive films. This quirky collection of taxi-ride vignettes in five different cities finally gets beyond a crawl.

Les Noces Barbares, 1987, Marlon Hansel (Belgium). After three years locked in the attic, a boy has mixed feelings toward his mother.

Notorious. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman get mixed up in a mysterious plot in Rio de Janeiro, in Hitchcock's 1964 classic.

Les Patriotes. A young French expatriate gets deeply involved with Israel's secret police.

Philadelphia. Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas. Hanks is a lawyer with AIDS suing his firm for discrimination. The film cleaned up at the Oscars but sparked controversy among AIDS activists.

The Piano. Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel star in award-winner directed by Jane Campion and filmed in New Zealand.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. A drag show tours the Australian Outback.

A Prue Formality. Gerard Depardieu and Roman Polanski. A what formality?

A Prue Formality. Gerard Depardieu, Roman Polanski. The debate over the name of this film continues.

Rainbow Warrior. Valiant French agents take on a troublesome boatload of Greenpeace dolphin-huggers -- with explosive results. (This capsule was preceded in the Calendar by this item: 14th of July Fete at the Ambassade de la belle France. If you're not French, just marry a French person and you're in! If they turn you away, head to the riverside for a nice movie at the FCC...)

Red Hot. Rebels try rocking behind the Iron Curtain, but the Soviet overlords won't play along.

Red. Irene Jacob in the last of Kieslowski's three-colors trilogy. French with English subtitles.

Reservoir Dogs. "Mr Pink? Why do I have to be Mr Pink?" Quentin Tarantino's first major release was a leaner, meaner Pulp Fiction. The violence -- and there's plenty of it -- is not gratuitous.

Rising Sun. Silly adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel tried to capitalize on overblown American fears of Japanese economic domination.

Robin and the Seven Hoods. With Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Bing Crosby. Kevin Costner, eat your heart out.

The Rock. Nick Cage and Sean Connery try to break into San Francisco's famous Alcatraz prison -- perhaps in search of a better script.

The Shawshank Redemption. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman form a lasting friendship inside a brutal US prison.

Schindler's List. Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley. Steven Spielberg's bid for artistic legitimacy tells the story of a German industrialist saving Jews during the Holocaust.

The Snapper. Drama set in working-class Ireland, featuring the Irish guy from the new Star Trek.

Sommersby. Jodie Foster and Richard Gere remake The Return of Martin Guerre, except it's after the US Civil War, and a Foster/Gere marriage is rather unlikely.

Sostiene Pereira, 1995, Roberto Faenza (Italy), in which a journalist awakens to political reality in Salazar's Portugal.

Stargate. Funky special effects can't save Kurt Russell and James Spader from cinematic humiliation as they go through a gateway into another world, and unfortunately, come back.

To Live. Gong Li stars in an epic of 20th-century China.

Toy Story. This cutting-edge computer-animated romp is surprisingly engaging, though heavily male-oriented -- it could be called Boy Story.

Transatlantis, 1994, Christian Wagner (Germany). Mystical journey of a professor in search of a myth.

True Romance. With Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater stealing, cheating and killing (who says romance is dead?). Written, then disowned by Quentin Tarantino.

Twelve Monkeys. Another twisted vision of the future from Terry Gilliam, director of Brazil. Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt.

Twelve Monkeys. Bruce Willis rockets back to 1980s Philadelphia to save the future from a nasty virus and kidnap/woo Madeleine Stowe. With Brad Pitt for comic relief.

Twister. Embattled humans take on meteorological phenomena. Source of the expression "as the cow flies."

The Usual Suspects. Well-directed suspense flick with a respectable body count.

White. Julie Delpy in the second of Kieslowski's three-colors trilogy. French with English subtitles.

Go to example of the Calendar in my portfolio.

Movies I bothered to see before reviewing them

See the Internet Movie Database for reviews of The Apostle, Kundun, A Life Less Ordinary, Lost Highway, Saving Private Ryan, Speed, The Sweet Hereafter, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Wag the Dog and others. These two, however, aren't in the database for some reason, so they're reviewed here:

Hustler White
Pamela and Tommy Lee's Sex Video


It's not a porn movie, declares the box that holds Hustler White, a mid-90s look at the gay prostitute scene in LA. True enough, although some of the acting's not much better. What is better is that there's the ring of truth beneath the silly plot and stilted dialogue that hold together numerous scenes that are nothing like what you've seen before. As in The Apostle, you'll enjoy it more if you can keep from distancing yourself. Some viewers won't have any problem with that, others will run screaming from scenes that include duct-taping, train-pulling, and what for lack of a better term I will call "stumping".

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

All Hands On Dick

A cinematic triumph. Pamela and Tommy Lee's Sex Video, supposedly stolen from the newlyweds' house, is nothing but buoyant fun. Pamela Anderson Lee, the internationally lusted-after Baywatch star, is positively unsinkable as she frolics in the buff off the Lees' Jacuzzi-equipped pleasure cruiser. Speaking of pleasure cruisers, Tommy's is cinema's real Titanic, although in this case it never founders. (Tommy Lee first made his name -- for what it's worth -- in the brainless 80s teen-rock band Motley Cru. You can certainly see where he got his self-confidence.)
Even Pamela's famously plastic accessories don't ring a false note. Who's to say what's real; they show up on videotape, right? Besides, there's no faking dialogue like:
    Pamela: "Where's my cocktail?"
    Tommy: "It's right here, baby." (he pans downward)
It's too bad the happy couple's dissolute pleasures are marred by excessive expressions of love and devotion. "You're the best fucking husband in the world!" Pamela squeals. Other than that bit of sentimentality, this is forty-five minutes worth of premium Americana -- show-biz success enjoyed the way God intended it: in a four-wheel-drive truck, rockin' in the breakdown lane of the I-5 on a sunny day in California.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Saving the American Public

Is it my excess of cynicism or my tradition of dislike for anything Spielberg (or are they the same thing?) that leads me to wonder why there's so much hype about Saving Private Ryan? Sure the battle scenes are grippingly shot, but not more so than Oliver Stone's Platoon was more than a few years back, and more annoyingly for all the MTV camera tricks, like strobing and tacky colors out of old Life magazines. Sure the sets and scenes are done up perfectly, with lots of expert consultants on hand, just as in Schindler's List, which seems to be the WWII partner movie to this one. (Must be another one on the way; Stone had three on Vietnam.) And sure the cast delivers up solid performances, led by Tom Hanks who breaks as far out of his light comic mold as his very respectable talents allow.
But you can't forget it's Spielberg. The assault on Normandy is the meat of the story, just as the concentration camps were in Shindler. But Spielberg can't just tell it. He make a sandwich in each case, wrapping the meat with his specialty: white bread. As in Schindler, present-day survivors -- in modern color -- visit the grave of the dead who so bravely gave, or at least risked, their lives that others might live. In case your head is impervious to Spielberg's hammer, the deal is that the living owe it to the dead to prove they deserve the gift of life. We (let's say Americans) owe it to the WWII dead to be "good people". That's right, because we are Private Ryan! Of course Spielberg being Spielberg, he can't even let off with that. Our avatar, Ryan, turns out to be well-deserving -- based on his wife's affidavit and the wholesome appearance of his family (behind him at his cemetery visit). And so are we! Thanks, Steve.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Thank You Jesus

Robert Duvall's devotion to his subject drives his intense portrayal of The Apostle. It's a story of sin and redemption in the life of a Southern preacher, and requires of the viewer a willingness to open up to messages that might usually be shut out. If you can't do that, you may find the pacing too slow and the plot developments too flatly handled. It's not that nothing happens, but the steady building pace and near-documentary delivery don't hit hard enough on their own.
I enjoyed it for the chance to see an honestly delivered demonstration of the attraction that southern-style gospel -- the music, the words, and the tradition -- has for so many people, as well as for Duvall's extraordinary and loving performance.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Life in the Slow Lane

You're just sitting there, waiting, and waiting for something to happen in Lost Highway. Dazed characters wander listlessly through the shadows. Now the camera is just sitting there on somebody's expressionless but dramatically lit face. There is no soundtrack. You can have a whole conversation about how bored you are while you wait. Then you realize what's happened: David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch have exchanged places. Jarmusch's formerly molasses-slow movies now bop along at a sprightly pace, while Lynch's have ground down to a glacial one. All this could easily have fit in one episode of "Silk Stalkings".

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Hollywood Takes on Washington, Falls on Face

It may have been a clever idea, but Wag the Dog is not a clever movie, no matter what its creators think. Instead it's tedious and insulting.
Robert DeNiro as a political fixer, Dustin Hoffman as a Hollywood producer and Anne Heche as a ninnyish White House aide create a hoax war to distract the nation from a Presidential sex scandal in the run-up to Election Day.
Despite some snappy dialogue here and there, the movie fails because it it can't decide if it's a political slapstick like Woody Allen's Bananas, or a chilling indictment of political system gone wrong, like The Candidate or Bob Roberts (a vastly better movie).
The cast take a variety of approaches to this problem. DeNiro plays confident but never chooses a route, Hoffman goes slapstick and saves his own skin. So does Woody Harrelson, who wisely plays his role as a dangerous convict as if he's in Police Academy XIV. Heche appears confused, directionless and not up to the task.
It looks as if Barry Levinson wanted to use big names and slapstick to lure in the masses, so they would see how they are being manipulated -- to expose political fraud for the benefit of the presumably benighted, while satirizing it for the amusement of the presumably clever.
No wonder it's a guaranteed box office flop: the public doesn't want to be told how idiotic and gullible it is -- especially when the perpetrators of the elaborate hoax are shown as such incompetents. If Hollywood can't make a convincing movie about a fake war, how are we supposed to believe it could make a convincing fake war?
The reality is that the people running the real show in the US are sometimes scarily competent, and they have more resources at their disposal than are shown in this movie. As DeNiro's character points out, the US invaded Grenada less than 24 hours after the disastrous truck-bombing in Lebanon which a couple hundred US Marines were killed. They don't throw phony wars -- it's easier to throw real ones.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Hello Dalai

Far be it from me to detract from the luminescence that surrounds everybody's favorite lama. Well, not everybody's -- I've heard he's none too popular with certain tyrants in Beijing. Suffice it to say that I admire His Holiness as much as the next heathen does.
I like Martin Scorsese too. But something tells me that when he took on Kundun, which tells the Dalai Lama's story from his selection as a small boy to his flight into India, Scorsese's story-telling skills were put on hold.
Yes, the D.L. is inspirational. And yes, his story -- and the shocking story of China's brutal and criminal occupation of Tibet -- is one of the world's most riveting dramas, one that is still being played out.
But as a movie there just has be more structure or the story just doesn't engage us. I even felt guilty that I wasn't engaged -- I certainly wanted to be.
Melissa Mathison's screenplay is surprisingly linear. You are left watching a series of events and disconnected vignettes. It's not a story, but rather a timeline, and there aren't many real-life situations that arrive pre-packaged to work as stories.
Scorsese and Mathison's nobility of purpose also seems to underlie the decision to use only actual Tibetans in Tibetan roles. This is a nice idea, and doubtless infused the set with a sense of mission. But that's not enough to overcome the weak plotting. One wonders if a few trained actors in key roles could have closed the gap a little.
Kundun is a decent introduction to the recent history of Tibet. The scenery is gorgeous (although the panoramas are often cut short), and the visuals a delight. But I was an easy audience. I should have walked out of this movie feeling angry and inspired, not disappointed.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Bus Plunge

Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter is a drama of loss and internal conflict within and among the people of small town which has lost its children to a winter bus crash. The central figure is Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), a lawyer who comes to the town in the hope of putting together a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving families.
Egoyan drags bitter and emotional performances out of his excellent cast, and managed to make me fall in love with a group of characters who, on the surface, are less than appealing. Every major character in his adaptation of Russel Banks' novel is morally bifurcated and riven with doubt.
Particularly interesting from a social perspective is the treatment of Stephens' mission. I thought the lawyer's efforts to put together his suit were played even-handedly, somewhere between the greed of an ambulance-chaser cynically exploiting a local tragedy and the difficult but necessary effort to use a flawed legal system to achieve a kind of justice. But the friends who saw it with me saw Stephens strictly as a "slimeball" exploiter, placed there to test and to tempt the struggling townspeople. If that's the impression that most viewers get, then I'm disappointed. Not in them, because they are merely receiving the message, but in Egoyan for taking the easy way out.
Whatever your perspective on that social question, there's no denying the slow power of this film. It moves with the measured fascination of inevitability.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Extraordinary Incompetence

A Life Less Ordinary takes its place alongside last year's "Fierce Creatures" as one of those productions that makes you wonder how so much money could be spent without any of the professionals in the film industry saying "Stop, this is madness!"
This is a movie which is not only terribly misconceived but appears to have been semi-aborted, then reconstructed Frankenstein-style to be presented to you, the audience, dripping with goo leaking out of its seams.
One can only guess that those professionals just figured there would be a guaranteed audience, loyal to the team which made "Trainspotting" last year. They should have stuck with heroin. What they are trying to achieve here is unclear, although I would believe it if they said they just wanted to make "True Romance" but it had been done already a few years back.
A Life Less Ordinary's problems begin with the script and end only with the credits. The characters' motivations reverse themselves from one line to the next. The editing which is either traditional and incompetent, or non-traditional and ineffective, I couldn't tell. And the plot shifts jerkily and randomly between romantic comedy, thriller, and "Pulp-Fiction" rip-off. It's as if the makers sat around with the spinner off an old kiddie game. OK, what next?(spin) violence (spin) surrealism (spin) romance. She (spin) cries (spin) kisses him (spin) shoots him. There's no sign that anyone thought even one minute ahead -- any idea, no matter how irrelevant or disconnected, was immediately written in.
These poor, poor actors. You can almost hear the director telling them, "You're supposed to be having an argument, so just yell each line louder than the last." That's not at all to put the blame on the direction, which like the acting must have been an impossible job.
Holly Hunter, Dan Hedaya and a couple of others are humiliated in a set-up plot out of "Here Comes Mr Jordan", or" It's a Wonderful Life". You know, the angels with a job to do thing. Their struggle to rescue what must have been an obviously failing vehicle is genuinely depressing to watch.
Ewan McGregor, as the inexplicably Scottish kidnapper, at least manages to come off likeable. I think his strategy was to maintain an air of complete confusion, thus forming a casual alliance with bewildered viewers.
Cameron Diaz plays the kidnap victim who comes to enjoy her captivity and collaborate with her captor. Would that audience members could do the same. I didn't recognize her, but she was so bad that for a few minutes I thought she might be Madonna. Doubtless I've missed her fine work in other films. If she made no effort at all one could hardly blame her, as her character has no consistent qualities or drives, being made up of a series of nearly disconnected sketches. She has at least mastered that careful overenunciation typical of models who go into acting (a trait that I suspect results from a fear of being labeled as thick). There is one moment when you get a real insight, sort of behind-the-scenes of the acting world. McGregor says his line, the camera cuts to Diaz, and she hesitates in apparently real confusion, then flashes what looks like a smile of relief as she suddenly thinks of a way to deliver her line: angrily.
At the end, there's a sort of epilogue in which the completely unconvincing protagonists try to convince you that you've learned a big lesson about love from them, while behind them, key scenes are replayed in a style that seems calculated to give you a feeling of nostalgia about events that changed you forever, like when you hear Stairway to Heaven. Except in this case they happened on screen within the past two hours and caused only puzzlement.
It's hard to understand why this movie isn't simply savaged by every reviewer. I actually walked in without any idea of what it was going to be about, who had made it, nothing. My only fear, based on the title, was that it would be a terrible-disease-or-handicap movie. Now I wish it had been.
I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

Actually, I'd Prefer Barbiturates

I was riding a bus fitted out with a video screen when I saw Speed. The bus was the overnighter from Sarajevo to Zagreb, and I was rocking along in the upper deck as Keanu and the passengers rocked along in LA. I was in a nice new bus going through a bomb-shattered landscape, and Keanu was in a crummy old bus, with a bomb, going through, well, a more or less bomb-shattered landscape. I was trapped. He was trapped. I was tough. He was tough. I needed a bathroom break. He didn't seem to need one, but you couldn't really tell.
With Keanu, you never can really tell. He's the young Kevin Costner, an actor so wooden he resembles a newel post with eyes painted on. So here he is, trapped on the bus which (in case you've been off-planet for a while) has been rigged to explode if it goes under 50 mph (that's about 80 kph, if you live in a normal country).
The insufferably spunky Sandra Bullock was the passenger pressed into service as the driver. Why there's a cult of Sandra fans I'll never understand; the only theory I can generate is that she starred in a movie called the Net, one of those things where Hollywood demonstrates its inabilily to grasp the real meaning of technology, and a bunch of geeks who showed up to make fun of it were swept off their feet. Thus are usenet newsgroups formed. Anyway, before long I was wishing her bus would just crash. Failing that, I would have gladly settled for having my bus crash. Except I wanted to live, actually, if only to see Dennis Hopper in some other movie where his talents wouldn't be so ignobly wasted.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

More Hollywood Makeovers

If it doesn't irk you when a plot hinges on inexplicable errors made by supposedly intelligent characters, then you may not be annoyed by The Truth About Cats and Dogs, a romantic comedy starring Janeane Garofalo as Abby, a supposedly intelligent, supposedly insightful, and supposedly unattractive veterinarian who hosts a radio call-in show.
A shy photographer (Brian or Eric or something) calls in to the show having trouble with a large dog he's mounted on roller skates for a shoot. Our heroine is in a tizzy. They make a date, but too insecure to face him herself, Abby sends her neighbor, Uma Thurman. It's not clear how this plan is supposed to work to Abby's advantage. Time after time Abby and Uma pass up easy opportunities to straighten out the confusion. It's a good thing too, because that gives them time to learn a valuable lesson about looks and love, which is: Nice guys don't care about looks. Right.
But audiences do. The movie's producers cast the famously fabulous Thurman against girl-next-door Garofalo and then they dress Garofalo down. She is frumped up from the start in dowdy, fat-girl clothes and flat hair. It's the oldest trick in pictures. As the credits approach, Abby magically acquires better clothes, a more flattering hairstyle, and a makeup job that gives her lush lips and discernible cheekbones. I guess looks still count for something.

I want more.
No thanks, that's enough already

More on the way...

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