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America's Sweethearts

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 07/21/01 19:47:58

"I found a movie where Julia Roberts is NOT the most annoying cast member"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

"America's Sweethearts" is trying to be one of those "Hollywood insider" type of comedies that pokes fun at the industry and its celebrities. Maybe it's funny to insiders, but the rest of us just tend to shrug and roll our eyes. As films that parody the film industry go, I haven't seen such a big steaming pile of mediocrity since "Bowfinger"

The film centers around estranged husband and wife movie star team Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas-whateverthefuck) and Eddie Thomas (John Cusack). They were America's dream celeb couple until she got bored, ran off, and shacked up with Hector, a.k.a. "The Spaniard" (played hilariously by Hank Azaria, one of the films few bright spots). Eddie goes nuts at being dumped and hides out in some kind of cultist retreat to try and get his shit together. Meanwhile, Gwen keeps making movies - which bomb miserably now that she's no longer making them with Eddie. The couple seems to be a parody of several failed hollywood marriages, from Cruise-Kidman to Quaid-Ryan.

Enter publicist Lee (Billy Crystal), whose charge is to reunite the couple long enough to promote the last film they had made together, which has been languishing in the editing room of Joe Esterhaz-esque filmmaker Hal Wideman (Christopher Walken) who is so eccentric that he bought Ted Kascinzki's unabomber cabin and transplanted it to his back yard.

Julia Roberts, surprisingly, has the least annoying role in the film. This is really a first. I can't stand this woman, but her personality is toned down a few notches for this film, making her fairly tolerable. The crown for most annoying actor and character goes to Zeta-Jones, hands down. Any scene with her in it quickly gets tedious. Roberts, as Gwen's sister, Kiki, is the down to earth, level-headed assistant who secretly carries a flame for Eddie. Are we really supposed to believe that these two women really came from the same gene pool, though?

Anyway, you should already be able to tell where this movie will go from there, and who will end up with who. The movie is not completely without it's charms, and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. However, the majority of them are provided by Cusack and Azaria (and occasionally, Crystal, though his humor usually falls flat). This leaves the rest of the cast looking like they are just standing around. Walken's character could have been the funniest of the bunch if it had been properly developed, but his talent is completely wasted here and he only has about five minutes of screen time. For the most part, it is as tedious and hackneyed a piece of filmmaking as you're likely to find, and the laughs are too uneven and sporadic to make the film as a whole very worthwhile. It's probably worth sitting through once for scenes like the fight between Cusack and Azaria in the restaurant, where the Spaniard keeps referring to Eddie as "Pussy Boy".

If you don't mind wading through the shit to get to the nuggets of gold, then you'll probably find it tolerable. It gets a little funnier toward the end, making up for the draggy first half, which is the only reason I didn't give it a rating of "Sucks all Ass." However, the shelf-life of this Sweetheart should be short indeed.

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