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Home Fries

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Home Fries

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Luke Wilson
Director: Dean Parisot
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 93 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Suspense

*Also starring: Catherine O'Hara, Jake Busey

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

The difference between an idiotic comedy like "The Waterboy" and a silly comedy (disguised as a quirky one) like "Home Fries" is that Adam Sandler and his colleagues seemed to be having a ball during the filming. The performers in "Home Fries" go through the motions just this side of embarrassment in a work that tries to emulate the style of the Coen Brothers but possesses scarcely an smidgen of originality. The laughs that scripter Vince Gilligan must have hoped to get from his 10-year-old screenplay are purportedly the old chestnuts like spoofing the awkwardness of the male gender when dealing with impending childbirth and of the females by showing how they coax the men into doing the nuttiest things. Mother-son sallies complete the formula in a movie that would not have seen the light of day had not Mr. Gilligan become famous as one of the key writers of "The X-Files" series. Its one saving feature is the presence of the cupie-doll cute Drew Barrymore in the role of a very pregnant burger-flipper in a small-town fast-food stand who is assigned to the auto take-out section to keep her lower body hidden from the customers.

Barrymore has just concluded an affair with a Henry Lever (Chris Ellis), a married man about twice her age whose only possible appeal to the smooth-skinned young redhead is that he's the only man in the southwestern backwater who lives in a house rather than a trailer or a wooden shack. Filmed in a Texas hamlet thirty miles from the capital of Austin, "Home Fries" almost takes wings when Dorian (Luke Wilson) and Augus (Jake Busey), two young stepsons of Henry Lever, fly over their stepdad's car in a chopper aiming the scare him out of his affair. Instead, Lever falls dead from a heart attack but Lever's widow (Catherine O'Hara) is more relieved that the affair is finally over than she is about her husband's demise.

Believing that burger-flipper Sally (Drew Barrymore) overheard their helicopter-based conversation in her headset, Angus convinces Dorian to take a job in the Burger-Matic stand to learn more about what Sally knows about the killing. Though Angus, who has an overly close relationship with his young mom, wants to eliminate Sally just to make sure that Mrs. Lever is safe, his brother Dorian has fallen in love with the precious little pregnant package and considers proposing. His differences with his brother and his mom serve as a setup for farcical actions, and "Home Fries" moves ahead on a conventional level, painting by the number in as formulaic a manner as the clowning employees in Burger-Matic apply the pickles, onions, bun, burger and sauce.

The movie makes about as much sense as Vince Gilligan's "The X-Files." Would these two fellows in their mid-twenties, test pilots for the armed forces from the looks of things, be living their mother, one of them willing to eliminate the woman's nemesis with extreme prejudice? As the diabolic, self-centered mother, Catherine O'Hara looks good--about ten years older than her sons--but director Dean Parisot fails to evoke genuine nastiness from her image. While the borderline-psychotic Angus does indeed convince the audience of his effect on the flustered Dorian, the film simply sinks, lacking humor, its self-indulgent characters coming across as vapid rather than convincingly odious, its situations lackluster.

Copyright 1998 Harvey Karten

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