"Tepid comedy that wears out its one joke really fast"
The latest offering from one-time Robert Altman protege Alan Rudolph, "Trixie" is partly a character-driven comedy, partly a detective drama--but overall it's just a limp, unmemorable exercise. The movie employs a weird (and ill-advised) gimmick to get laughs: most of the characters, the titular Trixie in particular, speak constantly in malapropisms (like "I've got an ace up my hole" or "I won't let you drink yourself into Bolivia"). It's a device that generates a few chuckles here and there, but not nearly enough. Alas, Rudolph has practically built the entire movie around it.Emily Watson plays Trixie, a scattered "private defective" (I told you about those malapropisms) who investigates a murder/political corruption plot. Or something like that, anyhow. The details are a little murky, as if the director were concerned that all these story points would interfere with the scintillating wit presumably on display. Considering the film's much too leisurely pace, and the complete lack of urgency with which the plot unfolds, it's plain that the director wasn't out to make an edge-of-your-seat thriller. One hopes, at least.
Of course, that wouldn't be a real problem if the movie had other virtues, but "Trixie" isn't real sharp on characterization or witty dialogue either. As our heroine, Watson is fairly charming in an isn't-she-such-a-lovable-dingbat kind of way, but she's also a bit of a cipher. She also has serious accent problems; her character is supposed to be from Chicago, but she sounds like, well, a Brit desperately trying to sound like those guys in "Fargo." At least she comes off better than Nick Nolte, who shows up for a disappointing one-note performance as a boilerplate sleazy politico.
It's just not very interesting, though Rudolph occasionally tries--in vain--to enliven the proceedings with Altmanesque touches (off-screen characters seen in mirrors, etc.). But we do get LOTS of misused-English jokes. If your idea of the acme of wit is lines like "I thought I would be a parasite for sore eyes," then this just might be the movie for you.Never more than mildly entertaining, "Trixie" doesn't have enough juice to carry a whole movie and ends up--to quote its stumble-tongued heroine--beating a dead horse to death.