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AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS

Directed by Joe Roth (2001, Columbia Pictures)
Starring Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catharine Zeta-Jones, and John Cusak

An estranged movie-star couple pretends to get back together to promote their last movie together.

 

 

3 stars

August 6th, 2001 in the Theatre  
   

Funny, entertaining, and making fun of Hollywood.  What more can you ask for in a satire.  I really liked Julia Roberts in this one.  And I felt entertained!

There's not much to say about this movie, really.  It entertained, and when it was over, I remembered a number of the jokes.  The plot is negligible, and it isn't really necessary, either.  Basically, a studio executive has hired a director to make a movie.  The money is spent, the movie is made, but the director refuses to show it to anybody until the press release.  This is unheard of, but it makes the people dance around, which is funny ("Do you ever wonder where the money is spent on a movie?  I have 80 million dollars worth of titles!").  

Lee is a publicity promoter who was recently fired, and the studio now wants him to promote this film, which nobody has seen.  Everybody is so afraid that the director won't show up with the film, that they make this a press weekend, giving out great souvenirs, entertaining the press with other distractions, especially the two stars of the film, the last film they did together, and probably the last one they will ever do together.  The problem is that they are estranged.  Gwen broke Eddie's heart when she started seeing a Spanish man.  Eddie ended up in a camp for "mental healing", which is hilarious, as the healers so obviously want to get rid of him, though they will take bribes from Lee, as well.

Gwen is making movies that flop all by herself.  Her sister Kiki, who is also her assistant, is running around mad keeping "her highness" from being inconvenienced in the slightest.  Is this a slight at Jennifer Lopez (otherwise known as J. Lo)?  In any case, between Lee and Kiki, they manage to get the two stars together for appearances sake.  The press may be fooled, but we know they will never get back together again.

This movie was almost entirely single-event jokes.  There is Lee running from car to car to figure out who gets to enter the hotel first.  There is a security camera that makes it look like Eddie is masturbating in front of Gwen's cottage, when he is actually picking cactus spines from his pants (how he didn't get any embedded in his hands is not asked).  There is the studio exec's reaction when Eddie and Gwen's new boyfriend get into a fight in the restaurant.  The fight itself was funny, but the reaction was even better.  He was obviously hoping that bad press was better than no press for the movie!  

Billy Crystal did a great job by staying mostly on the sidelines.  He often goes too over the top, but this time, kept himself well reigned-in.  And he was really funny as he messed with Gwen and Eddie's lives.  But Julia Roberts did the best job here, I think.  She was very subtle with her emotions, and the looks on her face when her sister asks her (sorry -tells her) to do something is great.  The best part of Kiki and Gwen's relationship was shown in the typical sisters-type dialog and whining that Gwen did after jumping into Kiki's bed.  Once she got her way, and Kiki went to go get Eddie for a conversation, Gwen is satisfied, but complains that Kiki's pillow is better than hers, so she takes it!

Gwen was performed to perfection.  She professed to think about nothing but other people, when in fact she only ever worried about herself.  When Eddie and her boyfriend fight, she is intrigued and excited, and wonders if she could resume her relationship with both of them.  Her boyfriend was also pretty funny.  When he finds Gwen and Eddie having dinner (a dinner neither of them wanted to have), he goes stomping in, ready to do battle to protect his pride (he thinks it's her honor he's protecting), but he gets distracted by two beautiful blondes!  It was terrific.  He later spends so much time trying to correct the impression that he has a small "dingy" (with his lisp, I doubt that anybody understood what he was saying) that he was a joy to watch.  

The film, of course, arrives just on time.  The press is getting just a little too drunk, and Eddie stands up on the roof to clear his head.  Lee nearly throws him off the ledge while trying to "save" him.  But the movie is not what they expect.  The director had hidden cameras all over the place, and used them instead of the filmed footage.  In the dressing room, Gwen confesses that she wished her illicit boyfriend had a larger... "you know", and then goes to show Kiki how large it really is using her lipstick.  The studio executive shouts at the director and mumbles that he hates the man, and Eddie bursts in and nearly assaults Gwen and her boyfriend as they go just a little bit over the top in a rehearsal.  

Everybody is shocked.  Gwen tries to set the story straight, the other actors say they will sue the studio and the director.  But Eddie thinks the movie is great.  It captures such an honest feeling on the set, and the press has started to call it "The Blair Bitch Project"!  

While everybody is insulted, Kiki walks warily into the screening room.  She had gone for a long walk after she and Eddie and Gwen had a big fight.  For Kiki and Eddie slept together last night.  Kiki got her wish from years ago, and Eddie discovered that he loved Kiki.  But he wouldn't admit it to Gwen, or anybody else.  The big joke with Kiki is that she had lost sixty pounds since any of the others had seen her last ("a whole Backstreet Boy!" says Lee!), and after their big fight, she orders one of everything on the menu ("so this is where the buffet is" Lee quips again!).  

So while Gwen tries to rectify the situation by telling the press that she and Eddie are getting back together, Eddie grabs the microphone and tells everybody that he actually loves Kiki.  Everybody goes away mad, except Kiki and Eddie, who try to get as far away from the press as possible, leaving Gwen and her boyfriend to try and salvage something from the publicity.  

While enjoyable, without the skit-like antics the movie would not have been entertaining.  The comedy rests with the main characters to pull it off, and for the most part, they do.  There is nothing really inspired about this film, but it is enjoyable for its own sake.  A lot of fun.

 
   

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