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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
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"His misanthropic material couldn’t keep him afloat for too long"
3 stars

Director Neil La Bute is like a poker player. Instead of having a supply of aces up his sleeve, he’s always got a shock hidden up there. He’s got a talent for laying on the mood of his pictures as previously seen through two opposite extremes, but his third feature, Nurse Betty, is his commercial run for fame without the use of his own story or script.

Betty (Renèe Zellweger) is a waitress, and the nurse prefix refers to a little bonnet she wears along with her obsession of soap opera doctor David Revell (Greg Kinnear). Married to a real squalid slob (Aaron Eckhart –a La Bute staple), who shows who put the white in trash, is scalped by two hitmen (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock). Betty views the ordeal, hidden and in terror. At that moment, she snaps with a mix of post-trauma and an altered state, and begins to believe that this Doctor Revell really exists, and that at one time, they were fiancées. The bare bones of this all sounds very amusing, with Betty then hopping several states to go find him.

Betty takes of coincidentally in the Buick where her husband stashed the drugs the hitmen are looking for. Naturally, they believe she’s done it purposely and go on a road trip after her. Determined and a few fries short of a Happy Meal, Betty leads them all the way out to Los Angeles, leaving behind a trail of perplexed acquaintances.

Freeman, on his last assignment, is showing the ropes to newbie Rock (and their revelation was a lucky guess by me), but you can sense Freeman’s disillusionment as he is no longer mentally adequate (“Betty, don’t you realize you’re special?”)

Upfront, there are many risible situations in Nurse Betty. I could enumerate the things just dealing with her introduction to George, the actor who plays Revell on the soap. There are so many funny possibilities and situations that’s it’s endless, but the way they’re chosen to be expounded on dissipate the humor. Each time a layer is added on to the bones, there’s a further detraction. The dark humor and the brutality it uses create an uneven feel that’s unshakable.

La Bute has been a shocker who really controls the atmosphere and attitude towards his movies. I was strongly impressed with In the Company of Men because he exhibited a strong character development, in addition to their fleshiness, with some mean, original plot. Your Friends and Neighbors just recycled the nasty characters with nothing really new except the women were horrible too, and subjected the audience to a compromising, uncomfortable situation. La Bute comes off as a misanthrope. Here, he’s stretching his hand out to try and gain a larger audience. His misanthropic material couldn’t keep him afloat for too long, so he makes some tiny amends here. Yet he still blended in his trademark brutalism. (Mainly through Rock, but also with the unmotivated, sadistic, mean-spiritedness from Tia Texada. What was the point of motivation for her being so evil?) Even for a dark comedy, it felt too brutal and misplaced. The fact that it was uneven prevented it from fitting together.

Morgan Freeman is a seasoned pro, and he shows it. He handles his role with the right amount of effectiveness while remaining an eloquent actor. I remain impressed with him, and he excels with this role. Zellweger is an on/off actress, and using her ingenue cutsieness like in Jerry Maguire, and The Bachelor (the former being on, and the latter off). She’s for the most part a likable character, which is something she needed to be in order for the movie to work at all. Her mannerisms and cutisms are down so pat; Zellweger is very good at it! Rock is really the only one who seems out of his league. His performance and characterization was very leashed, and it was only when his temperament was flying that is felt like the “real” Chris Rock. Kathleen Wilhoite also turns up for a halfway decent character role, but applied the comedic schtick a little heavily.

Nurse Betty lacks the elements that made In the Company of Men so despicably acerbic, and those that made Your Friends and Neighbors despicably banal. This just flops almost directly in the middle. It will be easier to finger La Bute’s real attributes on the next project where he directs and writes it. For now, it’s elusively ambiguous.

Final Verdict: C+.

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originally posted: 10/01/00 08:00:44
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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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