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