THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE'S Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron are together again in
Pat O'Connor's SWEET NOVEMBER. The movie is part light, romantic comedy and
part major weeper, but the leads are as miscast this time as they were well
cast the last. An aptly named picture, SWEET NOVEMBER is cloyingly sweet
and feels like it has a running time of an entire month.
This remake of a 1968 film of the same name, starring Sandy Dennis and
Anthony Newley, produces laughs at the wrong moments. The comedic first
half, which plays like a rejected pilot for a television sitcom, produces
few chuckles. The serious second half, on the other hand, is so schmaltzy
that it will have you laughing in ridicule at its most "tender" moments,
especially when the big "surprise" is revealed.
The story concerns a take-no-prisoners, work-24-hours-a-day, ad executive
named Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves). He's the best of the best, and he knows
it. But when he explodes in a pompous pique in front of a major client,
Not to worry. A crazy woman, Sara Deever (Charlize Theron), comes crashing
into his life, stalking him like Glenn Close in FATAL ATTRACTION. "Nelson,
would you like to be my November?" she asks him. She runs a one-month-only,
in-her-home program to help lost men get in touch with their inner child.
(As a side benefit, they get free sex with Charlize Theron, but the movie
works hard to make this seem downright unimportant. Right.)
"Truth is," Nelson informs Sara, "I don't have a month. Time is money."
He, of course, changes his mind and is soon frolicking in San Francisco Bay
with Sara and a fatherless, neighborhood kid, Abner (Liam Aiken), who looks
and acts like an amalgamation of every overly "cute" kid that has ever
appeared in the movies.
In the absence of any genuine chemistry between them, Reeves and Theron are
given silly things to say ("Life isn't perfect") and do (singing, don't
ask). Everything in the movie's first half is ha-ha funny. His apartment
has a dozen television sets stacked on each other like an electronics store.
Hers has only one TV, but it's being used as a planter. And everything in
the second part of the story is three hankie heartbreaking. Well, it's
supposed to be tragically sad, but it isn't because there isn't a moment of
genuine emotion in it. The people around me were laughing when they were
supposed to be crying, and who could blame them. SWEET NOVEMBER doesn't
deserve any respect.
SWEET NOVEMBER runs a long 1:54. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content and
language and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes