Volume 94, Issue 59
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Tinseltown's holiday season wrap-up
Gazette File Photos
What Women Want
Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt
Directed By: Nancy Myers
At some point in everyone's life, there comes a time when you would trade anything to know what members of the opposite sex are really thinking. For Mel Gibson, his time comes in the new comedy What Women Want.
The movie is a fairly conventional romantic comedy that works nicely, but is by no means extraordinary. Gibson plays Nick Marshall, a charming but chauvinistic executive who finds himself one-upped by his new boss, played by Helen Hunt.
The story's twist comes when Gibson electrocutes himself in the bathroom, giving him the ability to hear women's thoughts. What he discovers is that women don't think highly of him in the least, despite his good looks and come-ons.
Still, Gibson uses his ability to his advantage by verbalizing all of Hunt's ideas before she has the chance, therefore making himself look better in front of the boss. From there, the movie twists and turns until the pivotal final scene where Gibson comes clean to Hunt and declares his undying love for her.
As a romantic comedy, What Women Want works quite well. Gibson and Hunt have considerable energy and Gibson is especially entertaining during the first few scenes when he hears women's thoughts. The supporting cast, including Alan Alda and Marisa Tomei, is strong, but Alda's pretentious glasses have to go.
Proof Of Life
Starring: Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe
Directed By: Taylor Hackford
Although it is undoubtedly steps above the rubbish that Jerry Bruckheimer churns out year after year, Proof Of Life is yet another example of the general lack of good action movies these days.
It tells the familiar story of a woman's (Meg Ryan) attempt to retrieve her husband after he is abducted by guerrillas, with Russell Crowe as the man Ryan hires to do the job. Predictably, while negotiating her husband's release, Crowe falls for Ryan and she for him.
Crowe does a decent job in the picture, playing the same stone faced guy he does in all of his movies. With Ryan, there's nothing in her performance that distinguishes it from her turns in her last few movies. That said, she remains so incredibly kinetic and adorable that it is a pleasure to watch her.
Interestingly, it was on the set of Proof Of Life that the real-life romance between Crowe and Ryan began, but onscreen, the pair projects nothing in the way of chemistry. In the end, that lack of chemistry seems to be the problem with the picture on the whole.
While it does possess some solid performances and fine action sequences, the lack of real surprises fails to spark the imagination and leaves Proof Of Life as nothing more than a nice effort on the part of everyone involved.
Aaron St. John
Gazette File Photos
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine
Directed By: Donald Petrie
It seems Miss America has finally met her match in a beer-guzzling, tomboy FBI agent, ironically named Gracie.
Hollywood favourite Sandra Bullock plays tough-minded agent Gracie Hart, a woman who prefers boxing to beauticians. Gracie is convinced by her fellow agents to go undercover at a beauty pageant in order to catch certain members of the criminal fringe.
Enter Michael Caine, a fabulous hair and fashion consultant who views Gracie as the Mount Olympus of makeovers. After endless primping and plucking and waxing and tucking, Gracie is finally ready to fill the shoes of Miss New Jersey. Incidentally, she also trips all over the place in those damn shoes.
Despite her inhibitions and preconceived notions of beauty pageant contestants, Gracie actually finds herself developing friendships with the other girls, while simultaneously impressing the panel of pageant judges. As her friendships become stronger and romance develops between her and her FBI partner, played by Benjamin Bratt, Gracie gets closer to solving the case.
Clearly, Bullock reaches her vast comedic potential in this role, even going so far as nabbing herself a Golden Globe nomination. The rest of the cast is also entertaining, especially Caine who plays the fashion maven with such flair that one might think he knows a thing or two about all things vain.
The bottom line with Miss Congeniality : If you go in expecting Oscar material, you may be disappointed, but if you go in expecting to laugh, you won't be sorry.
The Family Man
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle
Directed By: Brett Ratner
Director Brett Ratner is something of the "it" boy in Hollywood these days, having produced two big successes with his first two films, Money Talks and Rush Hour. With the financial success of The Family Man, it seems as though he will continue to be feted by the big studios, but one has to ask the question: Why?
Hardly the "new Christmas classic" it is being heralded as, The Family Man is simply a twist on the It's A Wonderful Life story of a man being shown what life would be like if he had just made a few different choices.
In this case, Nicolas Cage plays a successful broker on Wall Street who is given the opportunity to catch a glimpse of how things would have turned out had he stayed with his college sweetheart (Tea Leoni). He is instantly transformed into a middle class family man and, although he hates his new life at first, he gradually begins to appreciate it.
Once a great actor, Nicolas Cage has become the hammiest over-actor in the business. He demonstrates his initial disbelief and disgust with his new life by gulping down scotch and squinting at everything. Later, when he begins to enjoy himself, he walks around with a dopey grin that presumably is supposed to say "I'm so happy," but just looks...well, dopey.
Cage aside, The Family Man does have its plusses, particularly the performances from Leoni and Don Cheadle as the mystical yet cocky figure who sets the whole thing in motion.
Aaron St. John
Copyright © The Gazette 2000