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Hanging Up

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Hanging Up

Starring: Lisa Kudrow, Meg Ryan
Director: Diane Keaton
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: February 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Jesse James, Diane Keaton, Cloris Leachman, Walter Matthau, Tracee Ellis Ross, Adam Arkin, Ashley Edner

Review by Steve Rhodes
½ star out of 4

HANGING UP, one of the most irritating movies of the year, features non-stop phoning. Like fingers grating across a blackboard, these cell and cordless phones ring incessantly. And, when the phones go on strike briefly during flashbacks, the story manages to be no less obnoxious. Populated by clichéd, unbearable characters, with whom you wouldn't want to spend 5 minutes, much less 90+, the film is about as much fun as answering calls from telemarketers while you're trying, unsuccessfully, to have dinner. Essentially a very long infomercial for the joys and trendiness of cell phoning, the movie gets in your face like a drunk at a cocktail party.

Walter Matthau plays a senile, dirty old man named Lou Mozell, whose favorite joke is about the small size of John Wayne's private parts. Lou spends the movie dying and making the audience feel guilty for wanting his end to come as soon as possible.

His three grown daughters cell phone their way through the plot. The film's director, Diane Keaton, proves again than she's a much better actress than a director. She also plays Georgia, the oldest of Lou's daughters. Georgia is a mile-a-minute executive, who says things to callers such as, "I love you. Call me every 5 minutes." The bad news is that she means it.

Meg Ryan plays Eve, a scatterbrained party planner, who wrecks cars while talking on the phone. She has already had 3 smash-ups this year. Eve's son, Jessie (Jesse James), has just discovered an especially insufferable laugh that almost rivals the movie's ubiquitous ringing sounds in detestability.

Lisa Kudrow is the youngest sister, Maddy. Maddy brags that she plays "a fully three-dimensional character" in a television series, which, of course, means that her character is anything but.

To round out this strong but misused cast, Cloris Leachman plays Pat, Lou's ex-wife. Using a variety of outlandish explanations, Lou tells people that she has died. Pat is the sort of "loving" mother who confesses with brutal honesty to Eve that she wished she'd never been a mother in the first place.

The story by Delia Ephron does have a few nice moments -- perhaps the best being when Eve, wearing one of her signature see-through blouses, wakes to the sound of a doorbell. Thinking, of course, that it's the phone, she answers it by picking up a remote control, which turns her place into a cacophony of jarring sounds.

So what did Jessie get for a birthday present when he was little? A toy cell phone, of course.

HANGING UP runs 1:34. It is rated PG-13 for language and some sex-related material and would be acceptable for kids 12 and up.

Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes

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