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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 3 user ratings

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Heart Condition
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Bigoted Cop and a Black Ghost Track a Killer"
3 stars

For fans of the lead actors, this is pretty much unbeatable entertainment.

Bob Hoskins and Denzel Washington are simply marvelous in the hugely entertaining Heart Condition, a comedy that isn't likely to knock your socks off but is amiable enough during most of its running time to please. Hoskins plays Jack Moony, a quintessentially bigoted Hollywood vice cop obsessed with bringing down Washington's Napoleon Stone, a slick lawyer who's dating the ex-girlfriend of Moony's. Stone isn't a criminal, but the girlfriend is a high-class call girl who's into drugs, and Moony has transferred all of his loneliness and frustrations onto Stone, who he blames for her leaving. When the girlfriend's latest trick, an anti-drug-campaign U.S. senator, fatally overdoses, her gangster/pimp kills Stone in fear of his knowing yet keeps the girlfriend alive in light of unprocessed photos she has of the senator. Coincidentally, the cigarettes-and-bourbon-consuming Moony has a stroke the very night Stone is killed, and Stone's heart gets transplanted into Moony. And here's the catch: Stone's ghost comes back to harass Moony into reopening the senator's case to track down Stone's murderer; only Moony can see Stone, and Stone can only physically touch Moony. This leads to several scenes of Moony appearing out of his mind to his cop comrades, conversing with and shouting at Stone in public places and having his artery-clogging cheeseburgers yanked away from him; and it gives Hoskins the opportunity to do some of the same kind of physical comedy he did as the detective in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Truth be told, Hoskins' pantomimes aren't particularly funny, and the finale involving a shoot-out in a house is too violent, which clashes with the genteel tone of the rest of the piece. Yet these aren't too detrimental in that the dialogue is consistently fresh, and the two charismatic stars share an unforced, ingratiating rapport that's positively enchanting. It's fun watching Moony being lectured on eating right and taking care of himself from the ever-wise Stone, who also bankrolls a true cosmetic makeover for Moony into a high-roller stud to flush out the killer. It's also neat watching Stone's jealousy at seeing Moony work his way back into the heart of the woman whom they both love. The two actors have two totally different styles, with Hoskins more contemplative and Washington more instinctive, and this meshes well with their scenes, with Washington, usually not too impressive in more demanding roles, particularly good. James D. Parriott, who both wrote and directed, shows an affinity for character and pacing (the punchline to the sequence of Moony buying clothes in an expensive store is beautifully timed), and while his script isn't galvanizing in its treatment of race relations it's nimble at making pertinent points without going didactic on us. But the real deal here is the chemistry between Hoskins and Washington, who play off one another so effortlessly it's as if they've been acting together for years. You can't fake acting magic like this, and it elevates a film that's decently written but not much more into something any thespian-loving filmgoer can adore.

This was far from a box-office champ, bit it's lighthearted and funny enough to warrant a look-see from even the coldest-hearted Scrooge.

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originally posted: 07/18/06 05:38:19
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User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Interesting Story! 3 stars
6/02/04 Jack Sommersby Good old-fashioned entertainment. Hoskins and Washington are simply marvelous! 4 stars
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  02-Feb-1990 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004



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