The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 7, 1998 - 11
'Soldier' is high in cinema rank
By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
Based on the novel of the same name by Kaylie Jones,
daughter of author James Jones, "A Soldier's Daughter
Never Cries" is the semi-autobiographical story of an
eccentric American family living in France in the '60s
and '70s. The drama follows two children from their
preschool days up until their time in high school with an
accuracy and knowing touch that is all too rare for com-
Kris Kristofferson plays Bill, the rough and tough head
of the Willis family. On one side, the former soldier is
now a poker-playing author who cusses, smokes, drinks
and seems to consider himself a real man's man. Yet, the
By Chris Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
A question on everyone's mind is,
"How can Hollywood possibly make a
90-minute feature film out of a four-
minute SNL skit about two hapless
losers who freak girls at a nightclub to
She tune of 'What is Love?"' Well, the
obvious answer is that it can't be done
well and the film "A Night at the
Roxbury" proves it.
"A Night at the Roxbury" brings to
the big screen the SNL characters
Doug and Steve Butabi, created by and
starring Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell.
The Butabi brothers are spoiled losers
who have just a few goals in life: to
eet chicks, to get into the ritzy club
he Roxbury and one day, to open
their own night club. Dancing into
their dreams in a film full of neon glitz
but no glamour is their rich workaholic
Alicia Silverstone's "Clueless"
daddy Dan Hedaya again plays the
father as Kamehl Butabi, and is rele-
gated to his similar, previous roles as
an uptight, intense loudmouth. Hedaya
does his usual shtick in delivering such
onderfully, poetic sentence frag-
ents as, "Useless" and "Idiot boy!"
Idiot boy Doug
with his father,
A Night at who at one point
the Roxbury orders him to get
dressed and go
* downstairs and
At Briarwood Doug whines, "I
and Showcase don't want to,"
and runs into the
slams the door.
Wait a second,
these guys are
how old? Just old
appease the mall-going high school
kids whom the filmmakers are targeting
with "A Night at the Roxbury."
. Doug and Steve still share the same
room and mooch off of their parents,
with whom they're living. When
Doug's plastic mom kisses him good-
bye, he asks Steve, "Did Mom get lip-
stick on me?" Steve intuitively replies,
"Yeah, but it looks like you were mak-
These Butabi brothers are goofball
kids who act like they're in the midst
character also has a very touching
soft spot and his conversations with
his daughter are well written and on
the mark. Kristofferson delves into
the part and his off-the-cuff remarks
provide good shots of humor.
The story starts when Bill and his
wife Marcella (Barbara Hershey)
adopt 6-year-old Billy, an orphan
from France, to add to their daughter
Channe, who is about the same age.
The children don't like each other at
the beginning but the development
of their friendship, conversations
with their parents and days in school
make a connection.
Writers James Ivory and Ruth
But the makers of the movie were able to make the
change effortlessly, and the movie is able to build on its
earlier momentum rather than experience any sort of a
The main reason for the smooth transition is the two
young actors who step into the children's roles. Leelee
Sobieski, last seen as Elijah Wood's wife in "Deep
Impact," plays Channe, a teen struggling to strike a bal-
ance between family and friends.
In a cast of well-known actors, Sobieski is the glue that
holds the film together. The role of Channe is at the cen-
ter of the movie and Sobieski a delight to watch on
screen whether she's talking to her parents about sexual
relationships or getting ready for a date in front of the
Equally impressive is Jesse Bradford as the uninspired
Billy. Unable to make friends at school, Billy seems more
than happy to stay at home with his parents and watch
television. Billy wants nothing to do with his past or any
information that his birth mother may have left him. As
the story moves on, this becomes a point of increasing
tension between him and Marcella.
The lives of the two children are further complicated
when Bill decides to move back to America because of
his deteriorating health and the fact that he doesn't want
his children to turn into "Euro-trash brats."
Director and co-writer James Ivory ("The Remains of
the Day") handles the story with care and doesn't allow
it to slip into a cliche coming-of-age tale. And although
the movie is more about a story than fancy shots, Ivory
still manages to include several tricky and interesting
shots or sequences in the story.
If the film has a weakness, it is in the over-the-top act-
ing by Hershey or the fact that it is hard to believe that
parents would allow their children to do so much and be
so open with them at such a young age. But these are
minor qualms about an otherwise enjoyable movie that
should serve as a launching pad for the careers of its two
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Score! Or not. Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell star In the lame "Night at the
of puberty, yet the actors that play
them are in their late 20s. They don't
have a clue about life, the real world or
dealing with people like 1991 award
recipient for "Male Star of Tomorrow"
After hitting their van with his
Ferrari, Grieco, who plays the only role
he could pull off, gets the two Butabis
into the Roxbury as a favor to avoid any
lawsuits. They ask Grieco, "So is
Johnny Depp meeting you here?" and
he replies with a solemn "No." Ha ha.
Providing other slightly amusing
nuances is club owner Mr. Zadir,
played by Chazz Palminteri.
Palminteri is funny only because 75
percent of his lines are utterly point-
less as he repeatedly questions, "Did
you just grab my ass?"
Ass grabbin', dance freakin' and
neon flashin' surround the Butabis at
the Roxbury, a place Doug observes to
be on "hottie overload." Here the core
of their skit shows through as the guys
meander through a colorful sea of
babes, saying, "What's up?" to every
one of them. When two sexy vixens,
played by Elisa Donovan and Gigi Rice,
partner up with the boys to dance.
Ferrell and Kattan explode into their
famous SNL freaky, jerky dance
These grooves are so wildly uncon-
trolled, it is funny to watch the twosome
accidentally slam and knock the women
on the ground. Funny, though, for about
five seconds. After this initial wildness
the dancing between the two couples
becomes very refined and moves into a
nicely choreographed (I'm not kidding)
dance sequence to the music of another
dance party necessity "This is Your
Night." Doug, Steve and the two babes
shake their booties, flap their arms and
dance their goofy hearts out in a scene
that has brief excitement compared with
the other senseless drivel found in the
Joining the song "This is Your
Night," the soundtrack of "A Night at
the Roxbury" is littered with a pletho-
ra of tunes from any of the Ultimate
Dance Party albums. Along with No
Mercy's "Where Do You Go," The
Trammps' "Disco Inferno' and that La-
Da-Da-Di-Da-Da-Da song, the Bee
Gee's ultimate dancing classic "Stayin
Alive" makes an entrance in a series of
shots of Doug and Steve strutting down
the street - a sequence copied right
from the openj~g of "Saturday Night
Fever,' canted hgles and all.
This music has a small part though, in
comparison to Haddaway's "What is
Love," the same tune heard in the SNL
skit. This song days constantly through-
out the film, trying to bring amusement
for whenever tie guys hear it they bob
their heads lef lto right - in the car, in
the elevator, in he club, etc.
These scene get old very, very fast
and prove again that there isn't much to
the characters 'r the comedy of this four
-minute skit t at shouldn't have been
fully realized n cinematic film.
This shallov4, uncomedic picture falls
into the dregs of other SNL classics like
"The Coneheads," "Stuart Saves His
Family" and the direct-to-video "It's
Pat: The Movie." Why Amy Heckerling
produced this project is beyond me.
Then again, she's footing some of the
bill for the reprehensible "Clueless" TV
series. "A Night at the Roxbury" is a
night well wated.
Prawer Jhabvala must have first-hand knowledge about
the younger generation because the children come off as
any 6-year-old might and not just as a cute kid.
As the children age and are portrayed by different
actors, it would be natural to expect some sort of a let-
down. After all, the movie is really clicking up to this
point, and changing two important roles along with the
passing of several years seems to be asking for trouble.
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