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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.66%
Worth A Look: 26.03%
Pretty Bad: 4.11%
Total Crap: 10.96%

8 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Anywhere but Here
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by Erik Childress

"Not Just a Chick Flick"
4 stars

Anywhere But Here (*** ½) – What a refreshing drink of water this film was. What easily could be mistaken as a “chick flick” should not be dismissed as it is one of the more entertaining films of the season. Most stories about feuding family members are fairly contrived and thoughtless, putting no emotion or reasoning behind what becomes the characters eventual understanding or weepy apologies. Most screenplays believe the audience is concerned with the emotional payoff of the story – the dessert, if you will – as it forgets to deliver the main course. Well, Anywhere But Here delivers the main course and appetizers to boot.

Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman are given two well thought-out, complex characters that deal with real feelings and not manufactured ones. There are no diseases to overcome and no long-kept family secrets to uncover. And while there is tragedy within the walls of the story, it’s not treated as the end-all be-all plot point of the movie. The ads suggest a mother/daughter drama but don’t clearly show how truly funny it is as well. There are big laughs in this film from both Sarandon and Portman, to make even the most anti-chick flick male take notice that it rises above that simple label. Sarandon has the flashier role here and plays it just over-the-top enough to still make her a real person with real emotions. But Natalie Portman is incredible here, lashing back with witty dialogue and saying more with her incredible eyes than most actresses are capable of. She makes you feel her frustration without having to be just a bratty teenage bitch or mere smart-ass. And all of her relationships are clearly defined, including the one with her cousin Benny, which is one of the sweetest and most heartbreaking of the year. The friend I saw it with suggested that Natalie Portman may have beaten Claire Danes for the most times an actress weeps on screen. But unlike Danes’ outbursts of pupil leakage, we understand why Portman’s character sheds her tears, for several different reasons and several different times. Portman has been a true find since landing her first big break in The Professional. I think she was unfairly skewered in last summer’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. If you doubt that, witness what should have been an Oscar-nominated performance in Beautiful Girls, perhaps the most underrated film of the decade. With any luck, she will finally get her nomination for this film. And don’t count out Sarandon either who allows herself to be funny, aggravating and pathetic all at the same time.

This is a terrific film, with a great soundtrack, especially k.d. lang’s title song, that isn’t just suited for women, but for anyone that likes to see a wonderfully acted, well-written, character-driven film. After all, isn’t that the least you can ask from a movie. Anywhere But Here gives you all that and so much more. (Note: For the record, my personal definition of a “chick flick” is a film that not only stars nothing but women and is about women, but also contains those cliches mentioned earlier to specifically get people to cry, as well contain an underlying message that men are bad by making all of its male characters pricks, assholes and morons. Witness Waiting to Exhale, Beaches, Fried Green Tomatoes, Stepmom, Steel Magnolias etc… Movies like Anywhere But Here, Notting Hill, and Terms of Endearment – I don’t classify as chick flicks.)

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originally posted: 02/15/00 14:07:49
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User Comments

11/03/04 Dinulinuu I loved this movie, and the way natalie portman and that boy hug in the end is fantastic 5 stars
8/11/03 I Would Makes you wonder if the director ever was a teenager. 2 stars
7/08/03 Zelemont Flawless acting by Portman and Sarandon, but flawed script. Still, Portman rules. 4 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby Sharply written, sensitively directed, anf flawlessly acted. One of 1999's 10-best. 5 stars
1/28/03 Jon C. Ericson Natalie Portman denied the Golden Globe due to name value ( Jolie (Voight)) 4 stars
11/28/02 Kelli Weston Great movie, made me cry 5 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Where was Natalie Portman's Oscar nod? 4 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick movie of the week-type nonsense. 2 stars
8/29/01 Gary Portman and Sarandon bode well in this slushy, run-of-the-mill, mechanical drama. 2 stars
8/24/01 eka saputra awesome, natalie is great 5 stars
6/26/01 Tzila Seewald CUTE! 4 stars
5/21/01 tnt a good movie....fabulous performances....a little slow at times 3 stars
3/27/01 so and so it was really good 5 stars
2/11/01 kwekwak a great movie! natalie portman is cool! 5 stars
6/08/00 Cole Jennett Natalie Portman is the reason I went to see this movie, but I would have liked it anyway. 5 stars
2/12/00 Skye Chapman mr.showbiz tells it like it is.(see below) i liked it. 4 stars
2/02/00 Joel Harwood Well i have seen it now and they cut things from it that were in the preview 4 stars
1/07/00 Joel Harwood WHAT A FILM 5 stars
11/30/99 Ryan Phillipe gets hit by a car and it Rules!!! Hello I am Mr. Sensitive 90's movie. Let me into your house for dinner so you can get laid. 5 stars
11/18/99 The Furtive Ventriliquist Gawd, do I ever want that Portman! 5 stars
11/15/99 John This movie is great....Natalie Portman is amazing. 5 stars
11/14/99 Jonathan Pinkerton The only way this movie is snubbed for Oscars, is if the Acedemy is blind 5 stars
11/14/99 K. Amidala Sarandon is always good & Portman is a surprise, but stay the fuck away from this movie 1 stars
11/14/99 MrShowbiz Familiar tale of mother-daughter bonding doesn't break much new ground. 4 stars
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  12-Nov-1999 (PG-13)


  03-Feb-2000 (PG)

Directed by
  Wayne Wang

Written by
  Alvin Sargent
  Mona Simpson

  Natalie Portman
  Hart Bochner
  Bonnie Bodelia
  Ashley Johnson

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