This remake of the 1953 Bogart/Hepburn classic starts off
with humor and charm but crashes and burns toward the end, when
too many conflicts and motivations are resolved too quickly, leaving a
multitude of unanswered questions in the air. Harrison Ford plays rich
businessman Linus, who is constantly terrorized by his bitchy sister
Lucy... No, not really, but he does have an irresponsible younger
brother named David (played by talk show host Greg Kinnear), who is
currently engaged to equally wealthy Elizabeth (DUMB AND
DUMBER's Lauren Holly), whose father is planning a billion-dollar
merger with Linus' company, which manufactures security blankets...
No, not really.
Meanwhile, lovely Sabrina (Julia Ormond), daughter of the
family chauffeur, returns from a few months in Paris looking more
beautiful than ever. David finds himself mysteriously drawn to
Sabrina, who has been obsessed with him all her life but never got the
time of day from him (because he doesn't wear a watch). David lets
everyone in on his newfound attraction right before a painful glass-in-
the-ass injury. Linus takes advantage of David's incapacitation to
begin wooing Sabrina himself. Is he diverting her attention for
personal or business reasons? The movie keeps us guessing on that one
until the end.
SABRINA, at two hours and ten minutes, is way too long.
There's no such thing as an epic comedy, so why are they trying to
pass this off as one? It's too top-heavy, with unnecessary scenes in the
first hour involving Sabrina's Paris transformation from mousy to
lovely and David's attraction to her upon her return. Still, I shouldn't
complain. These scenes may be superfluous but they're the scenes in
which the movie works best.
It's toward the end, with all the rapid-fire plot twists and the
Linus-Is-A-Prick...-Or-Is-He? scenes, that the movie tries to jerk
around our emotions. Well, I don't know about you, but my emotions
refuse to be jerked. I was looking for logic instead, and found none. I
walked out of the theater asking all sorts of questions about why those
characters waffled more in the last twenty minutes than President
Clinton and a family-sized box of Eggo's combined.
Granted, there are a lot of funny lines in the movie, mostly
found in that first hour. That's the part where you think you know the
characters and their motivations, before the movie pulls the rug out
from under you. Harrison Ford, as always, delivers a good
performance, as does Ormond, although I can't imagine why on earth
any man would choose her over the devastatingly beautiful Holly. (I'd
like to deck my halls with boughs of that... I don't know what that
means, but it sounds chauvinist enough.)
The big surprise of the movie is Kinnear, who claims to have
had no prior acting experience (although pretending to tolerate
Richard Simmons when he comes on your show is Emmy-quality as
far as I'm concerned). I've had my eye on this guy since his hilarious
between-clip commentary on E.'s "Talk Soup" show. He left that show,
sadly--as his replacement is a cross between Jim Carrey and every
pathetic small-town news anchor to ever live--and got a late-late night
talk show on NBC which, also sadly, showcases no real talent on his
part. It's in SABRINA where he truly shines for the first time, showing
a great talent for both comedic and dramatic acting, even if he is
unconscious for half the movie. Mark my words, that Kinnear kid has
a future in Hollywood!
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks