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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.61%
Worth A Look45.77%
Average: 21.13%
Pretty Bad: 2.82%
Total Crap: 12.68%

13 reviews, 64 user ratings

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Nurse Betty
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by Scott Weinberg

"Creepy dark comedy, soap-opera silliness and other bizarre goings-on."
4 stars

While the combination of comedy and drama is difficult to pull off, successfully blending light comedy with graphic violence is even more challenging. While Nurse Betty achieves is a solid success for the most part, occasionally the contrast overwhelms the movie. The script offers several excellent scenes, most of which deal with the issue of life’s imitating art. (Or more importantly, what happens when our lives are forced to imitate art.)

Nurse Betty is a change of pace for director Neil LaBute. His previous directorial efforts, In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, seemed to revel in misery-to excellent effect, I might add-while his latest movie is a surprisingly light affair. Well, aside from some shocking violence, social satire, deep emotional issues and some truly raunchy dialogue, it's pretty light.

Betty (Renee Zellweger) is a sweet young housewife who works as a waitress at a local diner. She's madly in love with the fictional Dr Ravell (Greg Kinnear), and therefore she logically plans to become a nurse. Her sleazy husband Del (Aaron Eckhart) manages a used-car lot and has recently run afoul of two hit men (Morgan Freeman & Chris Rock).

Shocked senseless after witnessing a nasty bit of violence, Betty has a break with reality and begins to truly believe that she is a character in her favorite soap opera, 'A Reason to Live', and promptly sets off for L.A. to track down her beloved 'doctor'. Eventually the assassins realize she's gone, and begin combing the countryside for her.

While a few of the sequences may seem a bit too convenient (the speed with which Betty tracks down her love, for example), the plot as a whole moves along quite strongly. Freeman and Rock have several outstanding scenes together, especially one in which they debate the waning work ethic of Rock's generation. But it's Zellweger who deserves most of the praise for the movie's success. While she portrays Betty as a confused and innocent girl, it's fairly obvious that she's no dummy.

Occasionally scenes attempt to place light comedy alongside some nasty violence, and that’s when Nurse Betty gets a bit off-track. Fortunately, these instances are few, and can be forgiven thanks to a consistently smart and entertaining script. The soap-opera parodies are dry and funny, especially when Kinnear is onscreen. The none-too-subtle depictions of TV-addicted consumers are strewn throughout the movie, and most of the gags hit their mark.

This movie could be recommended on the ensemble cast alone. Greg Kinnear is surprisingly likeable as arrogant soap star George McCord, and Morgan Freeman is as commanding as always. Aaron Eckhart continues his string of strong supporting roles, and Allison Janney is steals more than one scene as the soap opera's producer. Renee Zellweger’s performance is the most important, and she really shines in certain scenes.

Crispin Glover (!) shows up in a small but important role, and it's always nice to see Crispin Glover. A particular standout is Chris Rock, who has never been better onscreen. (His roles in Lethal Weapon 4 and Dogma seemed more like comedy routines.) While his character is often as loud and vulgar as Rock himself, it's worth noting that he's playing a character here, and he acquits himself very well.

Nurse Betty is a smart and insightful comedy, which succeeds mainly thanks to a strong screenplay in addition to some fun performances. (I got a kick out of Morgan Freeman being funny!) Nurse Betty will make you laugh, may make you think a little, and it's even got a few surprises up its sleeve.

While Nurse Betty may seem like a light comedy on the surface, there are serious themes at hand, including the search for independence and the importance of dreams. The conclusion is especially satisfying, although maybe things are wrapped up a bit too neatly, but it's a film definitely worth seeing if you don't mind a little depth along with your giggles.

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originally posted: 10/18/00 17:31:50
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell snide portrait of mental illness 1 stars
3/17/08 Pamela White Renee makes the movie 4 stars
2/10/07 Frank Rountree Entertaining, goofy movie, not bad 3 stars
7/18/06 David Cohen Mental illness, ain't it a hoot? 1 stars
12/16/05 R.W.Welch Has a delightfully flaky streak to it. Zellweger nails it here. 4 stars
10/11/05 Carolyn Rathburn Good film, didn't like the scalping part though 4 stars
8/09/05 C. Fidance I really liked it a lot. Thought it was fun to see Morgan in this kind of a role. 5 stars
8/07/05 Charlene Javier Renee before she sold-out. 4 stars
8/05/05 Nate Frary It was nice to see LaButte branch out a little. 4 stars
8/04/05 Carolyn Rathburn love Renee and Morgan, kind-of strange movie 4 stars
8/03/05 Eric Rollins Fine actors wasted on a mediocre story. 2 stars
2/02/04 Rocko gave me a head ache 1 stars
12/01/03 Mote Falange Incredibly original 5 stars
11/29/03 Samuel Chris Rock and Morgan Freeman save the film... 4 stars
7/06/03 Jack Sommersby Another meandering stink bomb from the talentless Neil LaBute. 1 stars
6/20/03 George Jung Amazing movie. 5 stars
4/30/03 R.W. Welch Works well in the early going but hits some false notes later on. Original though. 4 stars
11/20/02 Caiphn Not bad at all. 3 stars
8/24/02 Vito Pixie Even when Morgan Freeman shouts expletives, he's an incredible class act. Great performance 5 stars
8/06/02 Tulsa Slut Fractured bits of this&that add up to mildly amusing. 3 stars
6/04/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi very very very good 5 stars
5/20/02 siro The on-screen chemistry between Freeman and Rock is wonderful.... 5 stars
4/08/02 hum not what i expected. unusual and very good 4 stars
3/01/02 Chowie Very very very good 5 stars
1/06/02 Andrew Carden Reene Is Hard To Not Like...Such A Distinguished and Loveable Actress. 4 stars
12/04/01 Bada Bing Crosby Fantastic, memorable, unique and boy am I glad I liked it so much, it feels great 5 stars
10/22/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) One of the bloodiest, nastiest, freakiest flicks I've ever seen. 3 stars
9/05/01 luana very good 5 stars
8/16/01 Belinda Very over rated. Not the slightest bit funny. 1 stars
7/24/01 Bud A no brainer romp. A fun night out. Rene is just right. 3 stars
7/08/01 Don't waste your money on this one Even looking past all of the insults against midwesterners, I would still say it sucked. 1 stars
6/26/01 Hugo Felix - Southern California Great adventure. Good comic relief but induced reflection. 5 stars
6/17/01 artpaws Great concept; execution is TERRIBLE: pacing drawn out and lifeless 2 stars
5/01/01 Monday Morning The first violent chick flick I've encountered. Original story...should see just for that. 4 stars
4/09/01 PatrickG. Below average film, few laughs, overall boring! Stupid story! 2 stars
4/03/01 perverted pixie "I'm the law. I don't gotta do nothing." Sheer class. 5 stars
3/19/01 Shawn Chris Rock's talent was under-utilized. 3 stars
3/19/01 arcoiris original; slyly hilarious 4 stars
3/15/01 k.j.tomko Average. 3 stars
2/21/01 Rich Did not get enough attention; Renee rules 4 stars
1/12/01 Matt69 The scalping scene fucking rocked. 3 stars
11/26/00 Cristopher Revilla interesing, you won't love it or hate it, you'll be neutral 4 stars
11/04/00 Rob Nothing like "Fargo". Walked out. Unbelievable, unfunny, actors sucked (except mulletboy) 1 stars
10/28/00 toe.3 WHY??? Who gave this guy the money for this?! 1 stars
10/17/00 master.node Distracting while you watch, but there's ultimately no depth to the movie. 3 stars
10/12/00 Mr. X It doesn't know what sort of movie it wants to be. 3 stars
10/05/00 Bonnie This is one of the most original films I've seen this whole year. 4 stars
9/26/00 YelloMiata@AOL.COM Close your eyes for five seconds, enjoy the rest of the movie. 4 stars
9/25/00 malcolm MsAsh, above, is a dumb ass. 4 stars
9/18/00 Suzz has an "American Beauty" quality about it in the juxtapositioning of extreme violence with 4 stars
9/17/00 McAss Harrison Ford is the killer! 4 stars
9/17/00 KAM What's w/all the hype? This movie is not that good 3 stars
9/16/00 john smith i loved it ...Fargoish and then some ... just loved it 5 stars
9/15/00 mary collins would have been comical if annoying nurse had been viciously killed 1 stars
9/15/00 Jeppe Very good - feelgood, excellent casting, nice twisty plot. 4 stars
9/13/00 PJ Freeman is perfect, the direction is great, and the comedy works big time, really funny. 4 stars
9/13/00 Jokko You guys are holding the marketing against it. That's too bad. Freeman rocks. Great script. 4 stars
9/13/00 Movie Freek sorry. best film of the year as far as i'm concerned :) 5 stars
9/11/00 tnt a very forgetable film 2 stars
9/10/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble There should be a nurse in all theaters to revive all comatose movie goers during this film 1 stars
9/10/00 chuck Where was the comedy? 1 stars
9/10/00 Austin its alright, this movie takes too long to get funny. 3 stars
9/10/00 jonnyA hee hee , 4 stars
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  08-Sep-2000 (R)


  23-Aug-2001 (M)

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