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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Magnolia

Starring: Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore
Director: Paul Anderson
Rated: R
RunTime: 178 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Ezra Buzzington, William R. Mapother, Jim Beaver, Michael Bowen, Melinda Dillon, Jeremy Blackman, Henry Gibson, William H. Macy

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

As a follow-up to the porn movie scene of Boogie Nights, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson examines the emotional effects of physical and spiritual cancer in this manic, rambling tale of dying fathers and their pathetic children in the rootless '90s. In what is basically an ensemble movie, set in a single, very long day in California's San Fernando Valley and not unlike Robert Altman's Short Cuts, Jason Robards provides the connective tissue as an irascible television producer with terminal cancer and a grieving, guilt-stricken trophy wife (Julianne Moore). He begs his male nurse (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to find his long-lost son so he can make amends. Played with fervor by Tom Cruise, the son's now a charismatic sex evangelist, motivational guru and host of a TV info-mercial, teaching "Seduce and Destroy." Strutting and swaggering, he goads his male audience into sexual exploits. In a somewhat parallel story, Philip Baker Hall, the guilty host of a popular TV show, called "What Do Kids Know?" and married to Melinda Dillon, is also ailing, as his estranged, coke-snorting daughter (Melora Walters) becomes involved with a good-natured cop (John C. Reilly). One of the current Quiz contestants (Jeremy Blackman) is desperate for attention, while a former Quiz Kid (William H. Macy) watches his life disintegrate in a bar. Three hours, ten minutes is a long time to keep an audience involved in 10 characters, connected by chance and coincidence, even with Robert Elswit's inventive cinematography and Aimee Mann's "Wise Up" song interwoven into the fabric of the convoluted, overly talky narrative. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Magnolia is a cacophonous, kinetic, audacious 7 with a bizarre, illogical, climactic conclusion related to the Bible, Exodus 8:2.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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