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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.65%
Average: 10.09%
Pretty Bad: 4.28%
Total Crap: 19.57%

18 reviews, 219 user ratings

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by Ryan Arthur

"Best movie ever or epic flop? How about somewhere in the middle?"
4 stars

Magnolia is a movie that you can't help but respond to, a movie that will draw out, one way or another, an opinion. Whether you feel it's a great film or just the biggest turkey in the history of the business is up to you. Me? I can't quite decide.

Magnolia reminds me of Robert Altman's Short Cuts, in that it's the interweaving stories of a group of people in California over a 24-hour period. But it's too simple to refer to Magnolia as Paul Thomas Anderson's Short Cuts, because, quite frankly, it's more (and less) than that. I won't go into plot, because there are layers upon layers of how the characters all interact and relate. There are also key elements (elements that have divided audiences and critics) that are spoilerish and fairly difficult to explain. The most important advice to give is this: leave logic at the door, and pay attention to the film's opening sequence, which tells of a series of unbelievable (or are they?) coincidences. It seems out of place and unconnected, but ultimately sets up the film's payoff. Or lack thereof, as some have said.

Where the film clicks is in the work of the actors. There is quite simply nothing better in the film than the actors Anderson has assembled a cast of at least ten primary characters, and each role is filled to perfection. Returning from previous Anderson films are Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, William H. Macy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hall, Walters, Reilly and Hoffman also worked with the director on his first feature, Hard Eight. Added to the mix this time around are people like Jason Robards, Melinda Dillon, and Jeremy Blackman.

Oh, and some guy named Cruise, or something.

There's a reason they're all involved. The actors take what can be a rambling, overlong mishmash of a script and tighten it, infuse in it the tension and passion that it was missing. Hoffman (as he is wont to do) shines in the short spurts that he's on screen, Hall and Moore show why they're two of the best actors working today (and just why Anderson continues to work with them) by toning things down and alternately cranking things up, Macy is Bill fucking Macy, and Reilly gets a chance to sink his teeth into a plum rolel, rather than playing left testicle to Mark Wahlberg's prosthetic schlong.

But it's a relative unknown and Mr. Movie Star that steal it.

Magnolia is Jeremy Blackman's first movie, and according to the IMDb, his only movie. Hard to believe. Blackman is Stanely Spector, a whiz kid who slowly starts to break down on a television game show. For this being his first feature, Blackman shows just incredible range in a role that calls for more than just a cute kid. I wish that every child actor could be as good as he is.

Then there's Mr. Nicole Kidman.

Tom Cruise is one of the most recognizable and bankable stars in movies. Period. He doesn't really have to act, because hey, he's Tom Cruise. That he gives the performance of his life in a film where he could be (and probably should be)overshadowed by nearly every other actor is a testament to how he immersed himself in the role of Frank T.J. Mackey, a cross between a televangelist, infomercial pitchman and Larry Flynt, a sort of misogynistic motivational speaker: like the bizarre love child of Al Goldstein and Tony Robbins. But that's what makes it so engrossing. Magnolia hits because you can't stop watching, and Cruise is a vital part of that.

The look, sound and feel of the film are also impressive. Anderson and cinematographer futz with Magnolia's visual style. There's plenty of long, unbroken takes and tracking shots blended in with the close-ups and quick cuts. The film's soundtrack is loaded with songs from Aimee Mann, plus the now prerequisite Supertramp track or two, as well as a score from Jon Brion.

But for all that is good in Magnolia, it still seems overlong by at least a half an hour (although there's really no place to cut it, with the exception of Macy's character, "Quiz Kid" Donny Smith, but then you lose Bill Macy, so what can you do?). You know there's room for improvement, you just don't know exactly where.

I'd like to see Anderson continue to grow as a filmmaker, as you can see the growth from film to film to film. I personally liked Boogie Nights better, but I certainly see what he was trying to do here, and applaud him for it.

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originally posted: 05/01/00 05:48:30
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User Comments

8/23/16 Bents Very good acting performances - and very well made 5 stars
1/18/15 Alan Where's the story? Could have, should have been great, but falls short. 3 stars
9/21/13 Shawn Stylish aspects, but in the end I don't think there's really anything there. 3 stars
6/06/13 Langano Great flick 5 stars
7/24/12 Quigley Some kind of masterpiece, for sure. 5 stars
7/14/12 Mike Shallow and pedantic. Indubitably. Seriously though, this movie blows. 1 stars
5/26/11 chris c Like reading a long book, for those who can stay awake. 5 stars
3/12/10 FRANK TJ MACKEY Oh,your gonna give me that cherrypiesweetmamababy!-Cruise's best role ever 5 stars
12/19/09 DocJ OK, let's have everybody sing the song. Oh, yeah, the guy on respirator too. Crap hell. 1 stars
12/05/09 Selenium Waste of three hours, was a terrible movie. Had potential.. 1 stars
9/06/09 HsvsRsvsesv none 1 stars
6/02/09 PT I'm sorry. It really was a piece of crap. 1 stars
1/29/09 blah blah amazing briliant acting and an emotional rollercoaster 5 stars
12/05/08 K. Sear A rare gem. 5 stars
8/14/08 Claudia This movie reminds me of 'The Emperor's New Clothes', deep down everyone knows it's shit. 1 stars
2/04/08 Chris Really well acted, good movie, I thought Cruise deserved the Oscar for this movie 4 stars
2/04/08 Derek Seriously, this pretentious piece of pure rubbish is the greatest waste of time of all time 1 stars
1/24/08 Scott I just watched it again (this time fully awake) I take it back this movie fucking blows 1 stars
11/28/07 Scott It's a good sign that most of the movies detractors post vulgar nonsese. Great movie 5 stars
11/06/07 Michael "My mind is the thing i miss the most" -Cruise reflecting. 5 stars
10/12/07 Sarah Clark One of the best movies I have ever soon. Real, authentic, heart breaking, affirming. Great. 5 stars
9/27/07 Stalemate wow, never watch this, i mean i lost 3hrs of my life...i have patience but this movie was S 1 stars
8/08/07 Lynn Was good until the WTF? moment with the frogs!!!! 2 stars
6/10/07 matt the most pretentious and useless film EVER 1 stars
6/02/07 Mark D Tom Cruise overacting...again 1 stars
4/06/07 Anthony Great script score and acting. A tad long but worth the effort 5 stars
3/28/07 Double M Cruise was robbed of an oscar, the rest of the cast were almost as good... great movie 5 stars
3/26/07 Eric R Brilliant movie, made before Tom Cruise lost his mind... 5 stars
3/15/07 Sombke Love it or Hate it.... I loved it. Profound. 5 stars
2/28/07 Marcus Dennis Brilliant Direction, Story, and Acting 5 stars
2/01/07 Melissa Tokarczyk Frogs rule! 4 stars
1/26/07 Phil M. Aficionado 7 parts brilliance with 2 parts "huh?" and 1 part "nahh", plus great acting 4 stars
12/24/06 del If you look up "Pretentious" in the dicionary, there's a picture of this film's poster. 1 stars
10/03/06 Lisa Craven Cruise is a POWERHOUSE...never get tired of watching this flick, love Aimee MAnn 5 stars
8/28/06 David Corneillie Mesmorizing stuff. Great character and scene elaboration. 5 stars
6/26/06 MP Bartley Self-indulgent? Sure. But there are so may stretches of brilliance here you can forgive it. 5 stars
6/06/06 William Goss Remarkably potent and rather uncontrived, although slightly self-indulgent. 4 stars
1/29/06 Magnolia sucks Vomit-inducingly bad shit from a fucking idiot of a director, fuck. 1 stars
1/17/06 Jared Wilson My favorite movie. period. 5 stars
1/02/06 harry crap shit film.Cruise sucks 1 stars
11/01/05 -CUJO- Amazingly intelligent movie, if you are an idiot. 1 stars
10/22/05 Marcia Gebhardt A spell binding movie. Does anyone know the connection between Magnolia and the movie ? 4 stars
10/16/05 Luca That proves anybody who thinks Magnolia is a piece of shit is one stupid fucka. 5 stars
10/14/05 Fucka I really don't understand how anybody could think Magnolia is not a piece of shit. 1 stars
10/08/05 Mr. Durden Amazing, A true work of art. 5 stars
10/05/05 Leo An intelligent and powerfull film whose disparate parts become a cohesive structure 5 stars
8/23/05 Luca I really don't understand how anybody could think Magnolia is a bad movie. 5 stars
7/25/05 JFK WOW 5 stars
7/11/05 Pablo Esto film es mierda!!!! 1 stars
6/28/05 R a big cane should've pulled the actors off the screen at the end of the big music number. 1 stars
5/27/05 Jake Brilliantly superb, well acted, and breathtaking. At 3 hours long, it goes by quick. 5 stars
5/13/05 Indrid Cold Like Boogie, has nothing profound to say, but unlike Boogie, there's no colorful spectacle. 3 stars
5/03/05 Naka I pity the "Total crap" foilks, not intelligent enough to enjoy things like this... 5 stars
2/22/05 ELI Sad to say, if you think this movies bad, you're kinda...retarded :( 5 stars
12/26/04 Faceslapper Probably the worst movie ever made. An insulting, idotic piece of shit with morons screamin 1 stars
12/16/04 Andy Quirion makes you think, maybe I am having a good day 5 stars
12/12/04 Charlene Javier Didn't know Tom Cruise can act! 5 stars
12/06/04 Jimmy Kustes Listen to the soundtrack from Aimee Mann 5 stars
10/07/04 kentukey i hate it 1 stars
8/22/04 Peter James A great film 5 stars
6/25/04 DAVE SOLID 4 stars
6/14/04 MyGreenBed A great artistic leep (think Beatles, Help-to-Sgt.Peppers/Boogie-to-Magnolia). 5 stars
5/01/04 the bride Emotionally exhausting. But an incredible achievement too. 5 stars
4/27/04 Logan Well, I don't really know what to say about this one. 5 stars
3/24/04 George Jung Perfect. 5 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge A brilliant piece which dissect the interlaced microcosmos of life. "Happiness"w less pedos 5 stars
2/13/04 Kai Excellent. A film which actually has substance and meaning is a rare find. 5 stars
10/24/03 laurabetty great but what's with the fucking frogs? 4 stars
9/09/03 Buck one of the most original and exhilarating movies ever 5 stars
8/05/03 Dirk Diggler An unbelievably perceptive and hypnotic film about real, actual human feelings. 5 stars
7/31/03 Kooler Mann' song says what the viewer feels: It's not going to stop, it's not going to stop! 4 stars
7/21/03 Monster W. Kung Amazing what they try to pass as 'intelligent' these days. T-R-A-S-H 1 stars
6/07/03 George Jung I have lots of love to give. 5 stars
6/01/03 Jon Lyrik Brilliant. 5 stars
5/13/03 MAnda Who do you think you are Anderson?! 1 stars
4/29/03 Lea Antonopoulos It was crazy, different but I liked it! 4 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Bloated, pretentious and trite. A failed venture into Altman country. 1 stars
4/04/03 Jack Bourbon Waaaaaaahhhh! Boo hoo hoo!!! Sniffle, sniffle. OK, now you've seen it. 1 stars
3/20/03 sunshine A bunch of horrible &or unrealistic guys and fucked up women. boring! 1 stars
3/18/03 WestcoastPunk Speachless 5 stars
3/17/03 Robbie Banfitch nothing to say 5 stars
3/02/03 johan Great! 5 stars
3/02/03 Monster W. Kung One of the most pretentious, most irritating, and worst written movies ever. 1 stars
2/11/03 The Man Well done, Tom Cruise is great but no sympathetic characters, and the frogs bothered me. 4 stars
2/02/03 Sarah ***** 5 stars
1/14/03 Vince the acting makes this one. 5 stars
1/13/03 Stevo Every single second of this snoozeathon is totally boring with no decent moments 1 stars
12/12/02 Gruther Quality, intelligent film making 4 stars
10/20/02 Paul pointless crap 1 stars
10/11/02 Uncle Salty What a boing, drawn out, pointless movie. Beat me over the head next time. 1 stars
9/17/02 The Truth Every single second of this masterpiece is absolute brilliance with no boring moments 5 stars
8/26/02 bonnie blue Length was PERFECT, and I avoided movies for years for fear of being trapped in seat. 5 stars
7/24/02 TheChronic Loved the sofa moving black lady, the ONLY movie I ever walked out on. NOT Tom Cruise! 2 stars
7/23/02 Bueller Enough talent for three really good films. The storylines gave me nothing to care about. 2 stars
7/13/02 Edfink Lombardo Always engaging with interesting characters that pop from the screen. Brilliant. 5 stars
6/25/02 Robbie Banfitch The best yet from a brilliant director 5 stars
6/04/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi well, very good, sadiefuls, moving 4 stars
3/25/02 Tomper If you're into movies that make you uncomfortable this is it.Shows our dark side very well. 4 stars
3/21/02 lucy fur utter waste of your brains cells 1 stars
3/12/02 James Lindstrom see it 5 stars
3/02/02 Tiffany Thunderhurst Never a good sign when it needs to rain frogs to see who's still awake! 1 stars
2/26/02 Nick Anderson does it again, simply beautiful 5 stars
2/17/02 Clarance AMAZING..Great directing/music/acting and plot! What a piece of work! 5 stars
2/12/02 john james a boring piece of shit. i wished all the characters would've died of cancer! 1 stars
1/11/02 Robert This movie is genius, plain and simple. You who dislike it simply refuse to understand it. 5 stars
1/11/02 Geo7654 One of the biggest Piles of shit ever made. 1 stars
1/08/02 Spyguy2 Too long? Yes. Aggravating? Yes. Confusing? Yes Brilliant? Hell Yeah, Motherfucker!! 5 stars
12/30/01 Monday Morning Just slightly better than "Ishtar". 1 stars
12/15/01 Cracked head Lesson for moviemakers make a fucking soap opera, and disguise it as 'art'. Pure bullshit. 1 stars
12/02/01 BlueDog Great movie 5 stars
12/01/01 Phoenix A brilliant work of art. Terrific direction by Paul Thomas Anderson, and great acting too. 5 stars
11/29/01 Cookie Cutter The only "movie" I walked out, EVER. An insult to anybody's intelligence. 1 stars
11/03/01 Andrew Carden Too Many Sub-Plots Going Around, With No Point At All. 1 stars
10/25/01 Kat Don't think what Hollywood tells you to. 2nd worst movie ever. 1 stars
9/30/01 daniboy this is just great. One of my favorite movies of all-time 5 stars
8/26/01 Gary Emotional, torrid, touching and powerful. Immaculately drawn characters and superb acting. 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Beautifully written and directed...everyone is on-target in this odd look at life. 5 stars
8/01/01 Terrie Smith Has its moments but far too long & exasperating to watch. Cruise is something else. 3 stars
7/27/01 Rolling Thunder Tried to like it, but I just couldn't. It's so arrogantly horrid it makes me sick. 1 stars
7/26/01 Caligula Awful. Overlong, overacted, self-indulgent, full of idiotic deus-ex-machina (live TV show?) 1 stars
7/26/01 Crisis Management One of the worst movies ever made. 1 stars
7/20/01 Gus It has to be in the top ten movies ever made. 5 stars
7/03/01 fysl Incredible pice of art 5 stars
7/02/01 Tracy If you didn't understand its depth, then you obviously were not the intended audience. 5 stars
6/12/01 Rac So bad I was forced to cut my own throat 1 stars
6/03/01 Del the Funky Homo sapiens Kold Kickin' it live with the KKK! 5 stars
5/26/01 Dean's twin brother, Dan I don't like thinkin'! Why movie no spell it out for me? Ooh, my head hurts! 5 stars
5/23/01 Dean 3 and a half hours of boring film to see the most pointless ending ever. 1 stars
5/22/01 MeatFlute AB is tripe. Watch the intro of Mag again and maybe you'll understandthe frogs, Desdemoner 5 stars
5/03/01 Bueller A 3 hour ensemble peice that doesn't feature even ONE compelling character! Boring as hell! 1 stars
3/28/01 Jesse L Like Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom's house....long boring depressing 1 stars
3/21/01 Monster W. Kung Boring, self-indulgent crap. 2 stars
3/12/01 Your Mom Read Exodus, you ignorant fuck! 4 stars
3/11/01 zeitgeist first two hours were great, then it draaaaaaged 4 stars
3/04/01 za one of the few films that live up to its audaciousness. PT took a huge risk and won!! 5 stars
3/01/01 Gray Amazing movie. PTA is a great director and the scenes with the singing &frogs are brilliant 5 stars
2/25/01 Wilson Robinson GREAT MOVIE 5 stars
2/20/01 The Frogurt Messiah Holy shit--I think i swallowed my gum. 5 stars
2/10/01 No Way This movie blows. Too hard to follow, and disgusting ending! 2 stars
1/18/01 Lisa this movie rocks my world all over again, every time I see it 5 stars
1/12/01 Matt69 An ambitious thought provoking film. Respect the cock. 5 stars
1/10/01 Rob Banfitch The people in this movie stay with you. 5 stars
12/21/00 Markus Larsson Incredible... This movie has everything. Great cast, direction, music, cutting... and so on 5 stars
12/20/00 David Very entertaining but there seemed to be no point. 4 stars
11/21/00 The Bill Head Great acting, directing, and writing!! Cruise is a standout..wonderful score. Must see! 5 stars
11/20/00 Jeremy Rumsey I thought it was awesome until the frogs came down but then it all made sense. 4 stars
11/18/00 Juanfer It analyse the guiltyness in the human beeing, shown in a lot of people. It's great. 5 stars
10/20/00 hum interesting but somehow not as engaging as it should be 3 stars
10/01/00 JS Very, very, very.... very goood 5 stars
9/06/00 Monday Morning Great acting, pointless story, wasted money. 2 stars
8/15/00 Clarance By Far! The best movie I have ever seen!!! 5 stars
8/12/00 Yassen Roussev Makes you think 5 stars
8/10/00 Todd J An awesome display! Didn't get the "82" connection 5 stars
8/01/00 God Heartbreaking and magnificent, a towering achievement. Made me cry and re-think my life 5 stars
7/11/00 Jami One word- BREATHTAKING 5 stars
6/24/00 Aaron White Alman meets Tarantino meets Days of our Lives. Stunning plate-spinning. Flawless acting. 4 stars
6/05/00 Blubberbot It looked great but what was the story about? I've never seen a great movie suck so bad. 2 stars
5/31/00 Bruce This is a great one, awesome!! 5 stars
5/21/00 mellemel Interesting. A tad long, but the frogs made it worth it. 4 stars
4/12/00 K.B. P.T. does for emotional scenes what Tarantino did for violent scenes. Amazing! 5 stars
4/12/00 Sasha Amazing tapestry of a movie done with superior skill 5 stars
4/11/00 kohawk I don't know, the frogs may have been worth the price of admission...Maybe. Overrated 3 stars
4/10/00 punkass Thought provoking & interesting if your heads as far up your arse as mine 4 stars
4/05/00 P! You jerks that didn't love this movie- Your all Fucking Morons, stick to Armageddon, idiots 5 stars
4/02/00 Kriperace What about the biblical allusion to the 10 plagues? 5 stars
3/31/00 Arnaldo Cruz great direction,great editing,and great acting, the best movie 5 stars
3/29/00 Matthew Bartley Staggeringly well done. Only about 15 minutes superflous stuff 5 stars
3/23/00 Zander McGill The best film of the year by far. Although simple-minded moviegoers seem not to like it. 5 stars
3/23/00 Laura the good part was the frogs. the ONLY good part 1 stars
3/23/00 jim rice Rambling load of BOLLOCKS ! Pretentious load of CRAP! Surprisingly Cruise is good 1 stars
3/23/00 Pierce Lanson Missed the frogs, -walked out . Awful people, awful stories, awful film. 1 stars
3/17/00 Aaron Amazingly good - can't wait to buy the DVD. 5 stars
3/16/00 Justine Briggs I want my three hours back. Borrrrrrrring!!!!!! 1 stars
3/13/00 Willie Rose Without a doubt the best movie of the last five years - "Brilliant" 5 stars
3/13/00 Matthew Smith a devestating masterpiece, brilliantly acted. 5 stars
3/06/00 Captain Highcrime Pretty damn good, but way too fucking long to see again. 4 stars
3/04/00 Pizaster engaging, absorbing...very well acted, could've been trimmed though 4 stars
3/04/00 Mic One of the most boring movies ever made. How it ever made the IMDb top 50 is beyond me. 1 stars
2/25/00 Zaren Absolutely compelling in voice- Pure genius in vision, one of the best films in years 5 stars
2/15/00 theguy 1/10th as good as PT Anderson thinks it is. 1 stars
2/14/00 natasha not predigested for public consumption-- really challenging in the best way 5 stars
2/12/00 Skye Chapman excessive. anderson needs a slap, but i admire his guts 5 stars
2/07/00 Morgen Wilson A unique work of cinematic genius. 5 stars
2/06/00 Reed Rothchild Paul Thomas Anderson is one fucking talented director! 5 stars
2/05/00 Bueller Not even ONE compelling character in THREE hours! Don't ever waste my time like this again! 1 stars
1/29/00 Ami the Wonderbread I was truly awed by Tom Cruise for maybe the first time. Bring on MI2 4 stars
1/23/00 Brian P. Hanley This movie was riveting. A joy to watch. 5 stars
1/21/00 jvt Hardly "average" but some of it's great while some just sucks 3 stars
1/20/00 MAXOMENOS This movie blew me away. Wonderful characters and full of surprises. A modern parable. 5 stars
1/19/00 k.tomkowski An interesting movie. Cruise is an average actor and privately an arsehole. 4 stars
1/18/00 commando_337 I'm still wondering about this movie, and I get almost anything, CRAZY!!! 1 stars
1/17/00 Pearl Very Deep. Did anyone else relate this to the Ten commandments in Exodus where it rained f 4 stars
1/17/00 BBReBozo Amazing. I'm still thinking about it one week later. 5 stars
1/15/00 Kevin Cho Bizarre -brilliant. I hate Tom Cruise - he's a terrible person - but the movie was GREAT. 5 stars
1/15/00 The Voice of Reason Movie Freek, way to be subtle (opening paragraph). You should be arrested. 5 stars
1/15/00 Heather P.T. Anderson pulls off another masterpiece, didn't like the movie? then you didn't get it! 5 stars
1/14/00 Monkey'sUncle you better listen to albert u dumbasses! this movie was pointless! why the hell the frogs?? 1 stars
1/14/00 Albert This movie was just a collection of opportunities for actors to try and win an award. 1 stars
1/14/00 mosch disjointed, depressing, yet compelling? 3 stars
1/14/00 TheOnlyOneWithSomeSense are u people fucking retarded? this movie was complete shit!! it was over 3 hours long! 1 stars
1/14/00 shanababana Truly brilliant. Long, but worth it. 4 stars
1/12/00 majawat industrial 5 stars
1/12/00 Podbrey MASSIVE MASSIVE MASSIVE 5 stars
1/11/00 ashton fastecf 4 stars
1/11/00 Laura Petermann Fucking Phenomenal - Absolutely riviting! 5 stars
1/10/00 epowell Felt like an acid trip and EVERY scene was too damn long. 2 stars
1/10/00 sherrie much like an Altman film 4 stars
1/10/00 Jim Russo A waste of $7.50!! I should have tossed it in the sewer - - where this movie should be. 1 stars
1/10/00 PurityJustBegs Tom Crusie doing a self-parody? are you sure you saw Magnolia? Brilliant film, by the way.. 5 stars
1/09/00 E. David Sheldon I've got nine words for you... what the fuck is the deal with the frogs? 4 stars
1/09/00 jenn "Blu Smrf" This movie could not have been better, amazing! totally awesome!!!! 5 stars
1/08/00 Adam Ouch, my head hurts. Don't go in expecting a light movie, but don't expect a bad one eithe 4 stars
1/08/00 Rue the Whirl PT Anderson is a fucking madman genius!!! 5 stars
1/08/00 Malbert Could have been *really* good-poor directing, great score, awesome acting, *way* too long! 3 stars
1/05/00 tim francis very altman, very good. 4 stars
1/01/00 Tyson Stewart FOUR STARS (out of four) The second best film of the year; #1-Eyes Wide Shut. Excellent!!! 5 stars
12/24/99 abby heart wrenching and insightful 5 stars
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