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Meet Joe Black

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Meet Joe Black

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Martin Brest
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 180 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Claire Forlani, Jake Weber, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeffrey Tambor

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

The most audacious thing about this remake of "Death Takes a Holiday" is its length. It's a romantic drama that takes its time with each and every scene. Characters measure each syllable, often speaking in hushed, conspiratorial tones, exchanging long, meaningful glances. At three hours, it's more than twice as long as the original. "Braveheart" and "Titanic" were that length but they had sagas to tell. This is a rather simple, straightforward story - about the inevitability of death and taxes. Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy business tycoon, suffers a heart-attack just before his 65th birthday. Around the same time, his gawky daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) meets a charming lawyer (Brad Pitt) at a coffee shop near the hospital where she works as a resident. But she's engaged so they don't exchange names or phone numbers. Immediately afterwards, the young man is abruptly hit by a car - and Death borrows his handsome human form for a brief visit as a mysterious houseguest in the elegant Parrish home. It's a fascinating premise which, despite a quartet of screenwriters, never really goes anywhere beyond "if you haven't loved, you haven't lived." There's no compelling tension or drive. And, instead of going for Capra-esque charm, director Martin Brest ("Scent of a Woman") approaches each scene in a visually stunning yet dreary, reverential mode. Anthony Hopkins is magnificent, making the most of his underwritten role. As enigmatic Death, Brad Pitt wears a look of bemused, almost moronic bewilderment, savoring peanut butter and sampling sexual ecstasy; his best scene is when he speaks with a West Indian accent. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Meet Joe Black" is a mild-mannered, languid 5. Too little happens in too long a length of time - and there's no magic.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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