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Mad Love

video review out of 4 Movie Review: Mad Love

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Chris O'Donnell
Director: Antonia Bird
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: May 1995
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Matthew Lillard, Richard Chaim, Robert Nadir, Joan Allen, Jude Ciccolella, Amy Sakasitz, Kevin Dunn, T.J. Lowther

Review by Steve Rhodes
½ star out of 4

MAD LOVE is a troubled teen movie starting two people in their twenties playing a couple of high schoolers. Drew Barrymore as Casey plays another disaffected teen as she has done so many times before ("The Amy Fisher Story" (TV), POISON IVY, GUNCRAZY, etc.). Chris O'Donnell plays Matt, an All American boy who hitches up with the wrong girl and goes astray. O'Donnell, who is usually much smarter in choosing his roles, has a wide repertoire for such a short career including FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, SCENT OF A WOMAN, and CIRCLE OF FRIENDS. I actually liked him best in a small movie called SCHOOL TIES.

Casey is a troubled teen because she has a strict father. This causes her to become, in the vernacular of the 50s, a juvenile delinquent. Now, this show, especially the cinematography by Fred Tammes, is sympathetic to and trivializes her actions. The motivation for her behavior is never developed and hence her actions are not believable.

Matt, on the other hand, has an idyllic childhood and is an honor student and an amateur astronomer. The script by, apparently first time, screenwriter Paula Milne is so full of holes, unexplained rationales, and unbelievability, that one wishes she would flunked her college writing exams and taken up any other occupation. Matt is one minute an A student and the next minute off getting into trouble in a big way with Casey. Even worse, the director (Antonia Bird) is unable to develop any genuine chemistry between the two leads. This means Matt's actions seem totally off the wall.

The director may have realized what a dog she had on her hands, because she released it with a mind numbing rock music background. Whenever the show gets particularly boring, she cranks up the volume to anesthetize the audience from their pain of watching such drivel.

Perhaps the worst part of the show is the dangerous stunts the movie has the teenagers get involved in. MAD LOVE seems to be saying to them, try this, it is really cool and hey, you won't get hurt.

The acting is all of the understated variety. The parents, especially the dads, are portrayed as evil in some unknown way that the movie only hints at but never describes.

MAD LOVE runs too long at 1:39. It is rated PG-13 for criminal behavior, a hint of nudity, underage drinking and smoking, and some profanity. It manages subtly to teach teenagers, who are the only possible audience for this movie, some bad morals and dubious lessons about life. Avoid this picture. I award it 1/2 of a star because it did not quite reach the threshold of pain that I reserve for zero stars. On the whole it is much more soporific than painful. Vote with your feet and leave if you accidentally buy a ticket. I wish had left. I wanted to demand my time back when I left the theater.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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