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America's Sweethearts

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: America's Sweethearts

Starring: John Cusack, Julia Roberts
Director: Joe Roth
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: July 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

What a waste of a talented cast! Billy Crystal and co-writer Peter Tolan have concocted a sly, provocative premise and, as the opening credits roll, it's obvious that they're attempting an old-fashioned romantic comedy. The story involves a veteran publicist (Billy Crystal) who is summoned to orchestrate a press junket in Las Vegas when an arrogant director (Christopher Walken) holds a megabuck movie hostage in his editing room, refusing to show it to anyone. He figures that by giving the journalists juicy hints of a possible reconciliation between the film's once-married-but-now-estranged stars, Gwen and Eddie (Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack), they'll be so distracted that they won't remember they didn't see the movie or it wasn't what they expected. (And Crystal thought of this long before a Sony exec concocted the phony critic/David Manning quote scandal!) For help, he turns to Gwen's personal assistant/sister (Julia Roberts).

But the laughs are few and far-between. Crystal's glib, cynical flack isn't wickedly funny enough with a few amusing one-liners. After six months under the care of a Depak Chopra-like guru (Alan Arkin), Cusack's character's too emotionally fragile, lacking the necessary charisma. Zeta-Jones's vain, narcissistic diva is undeveloped and one-dimensional. Only Hank Azaria, as Zeta-Jones's much-macho Spanish lover, and Stanley Tucci, as a studio exec, and Roberts manage to whip up any farcical froth. Basically, we don't like these ego-driven, stereotypical characters, let alone root for them to unwind their romantic entanglements, and Joe Roth's direction is predictable, formulaic and telegraphic. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "America's Sweethearts" is a contrived, shallow 4. As a screwball satire, it's strictly superficial.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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