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Feeling Minnesota

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Feeling Minnesota

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Cameron Diaz
Director: Steven Baigelman
Rated: R
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: September 1996
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Vincent D'Onofrio, Delroy Lindo, Courtney Love, Tuesday Weld, Dan Aykroyd, Levon Helm

Review by Steve Rhodes
1 star out of 4

After reading a bunch of bad reviews about FEELING MINNESOTA, but hearing that Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs, I went wondering what they liked about it. I've now seen it, and I'm still wondering.

FEELING MINNESOTA is a would be romantic comedy, but actually is about as tasty as bowl of cold mush on a winter morning. This is a mean spirited show, that will probably make you wish you had never wasted your time. It also serves as further proof, if any is needed, that Keanu Reeves has a proclivity for choosing bad material as if his agent gets him a bonus for doing them.

In one of the first scenes, a woman named Freddie (Cameron Diaz) is being chased by some hoods through a remote Industrial district. When a man finally grabs her and pins her down with a big gun in her face, it looks like we are about to have a gang rape scene. Instead we find the man demanding that she live up to her bargain and marry Sam Clayton (Vincent D'Onofrio).

Soon we switch to their wedding where she meets Sam's brother Jjaks (Keanu Reeves) for the first time. [No this is not a typo, his name is "Jjaks."] She quickly gets Jjaks in a bathroom and rapes him. I supposed you could label it surprise sex instead if you prefer, but certainly there is no seduction or even a hint that she likes him before she starts pulling his clothes off.

At the wedding is Sam's mother Norma played embarrassingly bad by Tuesday Weld. Here is an actress who once could charm the bark off the trees. Today she looks bloated and lifeless. Other than show up, she does nothing for the picture.

Dan Aykroyd repeats his bumbling character routine in the show. He plays a caricature of an incompetent cop by the name of Ben Costikyan. Aykroyd makes a mess of every scene he appears in, but then to be fair, so does everyone else.

I kept think about poor Minnesota. In films great (FARGO) and worthless (FEELING MINNESOTA), it is shown as a bleak and forgotten place populated by crooks and lowlifes. Granted I have only been there twice, but I liked the state. Oh well, perhaps there is a producer right now working on a picture that show the state in a better light.

Speaking of light, the cinematography by Walt Lloyd is on the dark side of depressing. He uses dull grays and blues to accentuate the saturnine tone of the writing and the directing, both by first time writer and director Steven Baigleman. Well, at least Baigleman's next film now can only be better.

The saddest part for me was watching talented and attractive Cameron Diaz give the first bad performance I had seen her give. I loved her in the great low budget film THE LAST SUPPER and thought she was good too in SHE'S THE ONE. Here her work is totally unconvincing. She gives an unsympathetic performance that makes you yearn for the real Diaz. She even has the word "slut" tattooed on her arm to make sure you get the point. Subtle this script is not.

After lots more sex between Jjaks and Freddie, included the cliched scene of them doing it in a car and then making the car roll into the traffic by hitting the gear shift lever, Jjaks decides to leave her because "it feels too good." He comes back, surprise, and they leave together. There is a subplot about Jjaks going back to get money out of his brother's house for her. Also, there is a fair of petty thievery and random violence. One gory scenes includes an ear being partially cut off and then carried around. From here, you can write the script yourself and probably guess most of it. Not that you'd want to bother of course.

Before closing, I want to share a couple of little "gems" from the script. Freddie philosophizes that, "Time is like an orange. It's round. It repeats itself. Everything happens for a reason." Probably want to put that on your wall at work. In a scene at the pool of a cheap motel that is a take off on the motel scene from LEAVING LAS VEGAS, Freddie tells Jjaks that, "I dream of being in a Las Vegas hotel where all of the towels smell like Downy Fabric Softener." Gosh, what imagery.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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