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Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4
DE-LOVELY is a musical based on the life of Cole Porter, a wealthy man who
loved many men but just one woman, his wife Linda. When we first meet Cole, he
is an incredibly wealthy guy who is just discovering that the world not only
likes his music, it might even pay him for it.
Those paying for this musical will likely end up being disappointed. As
directed clumsily by Irwin Winkler and written clunkily by Jay Cocks (GANGS OF
NEW YORK), the movie starts off atrociously but does get better. In the first
part of the picture, the wonderful songs are sung in snippets. The musical
moments are punctuated with awkward and stilted dialog that completely kills
the movie's momentum.
Kevin Kline, who was the star of Winkler's last film, LIFE AS A HOUSE, gives a
spirited but unconvincing performance as Cole Porter. Ashley Judd provides a
pretty face but not much more as Linda. Linda is the canonical understanding
wife who does have her limits. She has no problem with Cole's nightly flings
with his gentlemen friends; but she doesn't like being ignored, and she wants
him to practice more discretion. In the sappy last half of the story, Cole and
Linda both develop serious medical problems. Cue the violins.
The songs, sung by a host of today's popular artists (Natalie Cole, Elvis
Costello, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette and others), provide the
only reason to see the film. In the first half of the movie, you'll be wishing
that the characters would stop talking and start singing again, but, in the
second half, the musical numbers generally are allowed to run to completion.
Among the fun little ditties that Cole comes up with is one that includes the
lines, "Have you heard of Professor Munch? He ate his wife and divorced his
Where are Baz Luhrmann (MOULIN ROUGE!) and Rob Marshall (CHICAGO) when you need
them? Winkler was simply the wrong choice for creating a musical.
DE-LOVELY runs 2:01. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content" and would be
acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes