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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 UK Critic
1 star out of 4

"Hanging Up" is not the worst movie I have ever seen, but it is the only one I can think of that made me want to pull out a gun and start shooting at the images onscreen. It's a horrible experience, as if somebody had discovered my pet peeves and decided to devote a whole film to winding me up. Although I own a cellphone and am acquainted with whiny women, they are both things I detest, and for emergencies only. Watching them for 95 minutes is not my idea of a good time.

The film is supposed to be the story of a man's family reacting to his descent into death. It's actually just an irritating bunch of phone conversations between three witless sisters, who might actually develop personalities if they cancelled their AT&T subscriptions and lived in the real world. Meg Ryan plays Eve, the one who stays by her father's hospital bed, deals with his eruptions of dementia, and calls up everyone else, trying to get them to visit him. Maddy (Lisa Kudrow), the youngest sibling, is an insecure little tramp who complains that nobody will take her seriously; she doesn't think it odd that at age 29 she was still dreaming of becoming a rock star, and in her mid-30s she expects she's going to be an actress. Georgia (Diane Keaton), the eldest, is smarmy, dishonest and lies about her personal life when it will bring her gain.

So much of "Hanging Up" takes place on the phone, with the annoying trio barking insipid platitudes down receivers, that when I left the cinema my ears were still ringing from clicks, beeps and dial tones. Perhaps this movie was inevitable, such is contemporary society's obsession with telecommunication. Delia and Nora Ephron, who wrote the screenplay, and Diane Keaton, the director, seem to think this presentation of people is normal, and that's rather sad.

Worse is the grating nature of the performances. Keaton plays her detestable character with the kind of glee that shoves right into our faces and makes us want to scream. Ryan is unconvincing, because she uses the same disorganised comic presence as in "When Harry Met Sally" and "Joe Versus the Volcano", and expects it to work when her character is supposed to be a cornerstone of emotional stability. As for Lisa Kudrow, well, she's a joke, who exudes stupidity from all of her phoney body, dead eyes, and flat, sarcastic whimper of a voice.

You know when you're on a crowded train, and you're wedged into the window seat when three other people need to sit in the same booth as you? "Hanging Up" is a lot like that, as long as the three people are vapid yuppie bitches whining and crying about their boyfriends and families into mobile telephones that play a little tune when they ring. This is a film that could get Gandhi's blood boiling. If it becomes your wife's favourite video, no sane jury will convict you of domestic abuse.

Copyright 2000 UK Critic

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