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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look: 29.17%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad38.89%
Total Crap: 1.39%

8 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Hearts in Atlantis
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Brian McKay

"Welcome to Stephen King's midlife crisis"
4 stars

Yes, it's another Stephen King ode to the magical summer days of childhood and simpler times gone by - blah blah blah. Oh, and there's some vaguely supernatural elements centering around psychic abilities (wow, Steve, we haven't seen that one before! How do you do it?). It's the softer side of King, a side that is enjoyable, but dreadfully familiar.

Based on the novel (which actually consisted of four intertwined novelas), Hearts in Atlantis competently adapts elements of two of the stories while kicking the other two completely to the curb. Now, one of those stories I didn't miss, but the other one (the one that actually gave the book its title) would have been a nice addition. So, while it's a bit of a botch job, the script is a serviceable adaptation of the overall theme King was shooting for, though purists may balk at a few liberties taken. But then, when has a Stephen King story not been manhandled by scriptwriters and directors? Occasionally it turns out well (Kubrick's The Shining, for example), but usually not so.

In this case, the results ain't bad, but they're not fantastic, either. Beginning in present day, Bobby Garfield (David Morse) is called upon to attend the funeral of an old childhood friend. Thus the film segues into Bobby's childhood (where he is played by Anton Yelchin) in the early 1960's. Bobby lives in the bottom level of a duplex with his mother, Liz (Hope Davis). She works too much, often neglecting him, and complains about what a louse his late father was and how much he left them in debt, while buying lots of nice dresses and perfume. She's not a total bitch in the "Mommy Dearest" sense. Let's just say that her priorities are poorly categorized.

One day, a mysterious old man named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) shows up and rents the upstairs apartment. He strikes up a relationship with the boy, opening his mind to great literature and the like, and telling him to watch out for the "Low Men" who may come to the neighborhood looking for him. He seems to know many things he couldn't possibly know if he wasn't "gifted", and is prone to occasional fits of staring off into space. But of course, he serves as the father figure and teacher of life's lessons to young Bobby.

Meanwhile, Bobby's best friend is Carol Gerber (Mika Boreem), who is of course the first and greatest unrequited love of his life. He protects her from a local punk who likes to wield a baseball bat, and finds that some of Ted's "gift" may have rubbed off on him. But when the Low Men inevitably start showing up in the neighborhood, he knows that his days spent with Ted are numbered.

The film has a lot of nice little touches going for it. The script is efficient, and while there are the obligatory moments of heartstring plucking underscored by the stir of violins, it never really overdoes things. The acting is good across the board. Hopkins does his usual distinguished genteel-man routine, Davis is a nice addition as the harried mother who deals with a lecherous and domineering boss to keep food on the table, and the kids, Yelchin and Boreem, are not exactly prodigies but are enjoyable to watch. The only problem is, it's just so done already. Between the likes of Stand by Me, It, and even the recent Dreamcatcher, we've already covered this ground pretty thoroughly. Between getting older and being hit by a van, King must be starting to feel his mortality. I can think of no other reason why he keeps dipping his bucket in the well of "childhood magic" in every third project he puts out.

So, it's a decent watch and will occasionally bring a smile to the lips or a lump to the throat. But like a childhood memory, its nature is fleeting and it's not something you're likely to dwell on for long. Now, does anyone miss the old Stephen King? The one who used to have you up turning pages until 3 a.m. and scaring the shit out of you? Come back, Steve. We miss ya.

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originally posted: 05/11/03 20:44:40
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User Comments

7/21/09 scott lee I liked it a lot! 4 stars
11/26/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
11/17/06 Alyssa Hale Very disappointing movie, not at all good. 2 stars
6/22/06 TB I wish I learn more about the mysterious man, but the story was about a boy 3 stars
12/23/04 Nick Boyd Very heartfelt coming-of-age story 5 stars
4/16/04 A Reader Makes mincemeat of the King book, but is surprisingly heartfelt, and may haunt you later. 4 stars
4/13/04 Chris I was really looking foward to it but it was very dissapointing. Shoulda been better. 2 stars
9/14/03 agustina magic land full of dreams 5 stars
9/13/03 Phil M. Aficionado Nothing special except excellent action and photography. 3 stars
1/11/03 Mitsaso Conventional-but still good. 4 stars
1/08/03 tina crap 1 stars
10/08/02 Rusty The book was great, the movie writer needs to be shot for butchering the book like this!!!! 2 stars
10/23/01 spaceworm Get it right: Olivier was the old Anthony Hopkins. 4 stars
10/14/01 E-Funk The book is a step above this effort, but the effort is respectable. Hopkins is great. 4 stars
10/05/01 Jennifer Hassell I thought it was rather slow-moving, but excellent acting and photography!!! 4 stars
10/03/01 toneely I liked the movie, but Erik the movieman is correct.that's why I am reading the book. 4 stars
10/02/01 travis one of the best films in a long time best picture nomanation 5 stars
10/02/01 Greyjack Erik pretty much nailed it. What was there was nice, but it just felt very incomplete. 3 stars
10/01/01 Suzz A bit of a different take on the coming-of-age theme. Ok for 2 hours of escapism. 4 stars
9/30/01 erik the movieman Ah Yes - The Intelligent Moviegoer and his Comments! Bravo! Go See Glitter - You'll Love It 3 stars
9/29/01 Anders Caught a sneak preview - decent, like a "Stand By Me" on mild hallucinogens. 4 stars
9/28/01 DON'T LISTEN TO THIS MORON "Erik the Movieman" IS A MORON@!! 5 stars
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  28-Sep-2001 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Scott Hicks

Written by
  William Goldman

  Anthony Hopkins
  Anton Yelchin
  Hope Davis
  David Morse
  Mika Boorem
  Will Rothhaar

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