8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 8, 1999
By Kristin Long
Daily Arts Writer
In the film "The Other Sister," Juliette Lewis plays Carla
Tate, a 24-year-old mentally challenged woman struggling
to find her independence.
At one point, in the middle of a family dinner, she asks
her sister and her sister's fiance if they are going to "do it."
At another point, she's barking at dogs in the middle of a
ceremony honoring her mother, caus-
ing mass chaos and utter embarass-
ment for her mother. Later, she's
telling her friend Daniel, also coping
The Other with mental challenges, that they
Sister should do more than kiss and move on
to other things.
i And this is supposed to be funny?
At Showcase To the makers of the movies, appar-
But the truth is that the film hardly
is, and it isn't endearing either. The
entire premise is more annoying than
anything, and builds its humor on the
mockery of Carla and Daniel's mental
challenges. The laughs are contrived
from the two individuals' innocence and misunderstandings,
and any tears that may fall ought to result from the film's
poor quality than any character revelations.
Carla has just returned home from a private boarding
school, and through a series of wasted flashbacks that kill
any momentum from its very start, we learn that her father,
Radley (Tom Skerritt), and mother, Elizabeth (Diane
es mockery of mentally challenged .
bitch, someone whom we'd rather never meet nor ever care
to endulge in her life.
The story centers on Carla making it on her own. At her
welcome home party, she tells Mom, Dad and her two sis-
ters Heather and Caroline (Sarah Paulson and Poppy
Montgomery), how she has big goals in line for her future,
including earning a degree from a "real" school. Elizabeth,
of course, finds this particularly unsettling, because the
family is in the midst of planning for Caroline's wedding,
and feels that Carla's aspirations can wait for another time.
Instead of focusing on this challenge and creating a story
of coming to terms with the cards life has dealt her, the plot
becomes diluted with multiple subplots that stall the for-
ward motion of the film and also prohibit us from getting
attached to any aspect thereof
Enter Carla's romantic relationship with Daniel
McMahon, This, too, could carry the film on its own, but
alas, it battles the Carla-Elizabeth story, and instead of com-
plementing each other, which it poorly attempts to do, we
are left feeling no real attachment to any aspect of the story.
It is superficial and a complete bore.
What gives "The Other Sister" any cheers, as quiet as that
cheer might be, is Juliette Lewis's performance. While
many say that actors leap for roles of the mentally challeged,
Lewis does a remarkable portrayal of the determined Carla
regardless. What weakens her credibility is her character's
inability to make a gradual progression toward proving her
independence, and instead her behavior seems ridiculed.
Herein lies a fundamental problem with the film. It bases
its humor on Carla and Daniel's mental conditions, and
quite hiuntly laughs at their challenges. It isn't laughing
with them and their adventures, but treats them as a farce
and seems to be more of a put down that an unlifting story
of a woman overcoming the obstacles of ife with her love.
While Giovanni Ribisi's Daniel, like Lewis, is well-repre-
sented, we are expected to find more humor in his igno-
rance, and he just becomes an snowball of embarassing
moments,. All of their discussion of sex is completely for-
mulated to gain a laugh or two, and it ruins any credibility
the film might have mustered.
The remainder of the film's stars go completely wasted.
Diane Keaton reprises her "Father of the Bride" (Parts I and
II) role, as the mom who stuggles with letting go. Oh,
"Annie Hall" days, where have you gone? Keaton has class
and talent, but her portrayal of Elizabeth is nothing more
than a diluted attempt at being an emotional carry-all.
Skerritt shows the most talent, with regard to Carla's fam-
ily members. We actually care about him, his feelings of
accepting Carla and his coming to grips with alcoholism. As
the sisters, Montgomery and Paulson merely add dead-
weight to the already sinking plot.
"The Other Sister" makes its strongest attempt at true
humor when it parallels scenes from "The Graduate" to por-
tray Carla and Daniel's fears of being average. At least here,
we are not mocking the young lovers, but actually attempt-
ing to understand their challenges. Unfortunately, for this
original film, it has to use another film to make a point.
While "The Other Sister" tries to be an endearing bitter-
sweet comedy, its final product is nothing more than an irri-
tating mimicry of the woes of life's greatest obstacles. How
Courtesy of Buena vista
Juliette Lewis rides Giovanni Ribisi's handlebars.
Keaton), had to overcome struggles of personal guilt and
alcoholism to learn to accept and deal with Carla's condi-
While Radley comes across clearly as a man we would
like to know, Elizabeth is merely a shallow, insensitive
Health Career Fair
Human Service, Policy, Practice, Research and Administration1
By Kristin Long
Daily Arts Writer
People say that overanalyzing things
leads one to miss the boat of under-
standing. Such is the case with the com-
edy "Analyze This" directed and co-
written by humor-genius Harold Ramis.
The film stars Robert DeNiro as an
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rganizations attending the Fair
carry the humor int
case of a mobster
named Paul Vitti
and Billy Crystal
as Paul's seem-
Sobel. While the
story lacks the
balance of silli-
ness and serious-
ness to make the
film plausible, the
Crystal help to
the life of mobster
Watch for these o
Biotronic " Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
M-Fit * Genesys Regional Medical Center " Peace Corps
Mathematica Policy Research . The MEDSTAT Group 1
STATPROBE, Inc. " Market Strategies - Wayne County ,,
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Th,.U tr iw o hian
Career IPanning Placement
DOsr, - l.1Stujrnt Aifam,
on the verge of a breakdown. Their rela-
tionship makes "Analyze This" bear-
jWe meet the intimidating Mr. Vitti
just as he suffers the anxiety attack of a
lifetime, which sets the ball rolling for
an emotional rollar coster of events.
Before long, his sidekick Jelly (Joseph
Viterelli) - the epitome of a mob
boss's right-hand man - introduces
him to the cynical ways of Ben Sobel.
Sobel is also dealing with his own per-
sonal problems - though his aren't of
the necessarily violent sort, but more of
the typical single father-about-to-
Needless to say, this is very typical
Crystal. He plays a man who doesn't
want to go outside of the box, but is
inevitably forced to push the barriers
and let down his guard. Though his por-
trayal brings home the laughs, the char-
acterization is nothing unusual for
Crystal and we get the feeling we've
seen this before.
When Lisa Kudrow enters the picture
as Laura MacNamara, Ben's fiancee,
we get the exact same feeling. It's
Phoebe, under a different name, and
now she's an eccentric bride-to-be,
who's giving up her reporter's job in
Miami and moving to New York for her
new hubby. We don't know much more
about her, except that she's furious with
Mr. Vitti's "problems" and anything that
has to do with her stops anything inter-
esting from happening in the movie's
The performance is quite a downfall
for Kudrow who was remarkable in last
year's "The Opposite of Sex." In that
film she had almost completely evaded
the "Friends" belong on the small
screen adage, whereas Kudrow reverts
back to the silly basics here. Is all hope
with the University?
Need help making
sense of your
U of M experience?
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The story goes on to show how Paul
comes to grips with his past, and moves
on as the head of his family. His char-
acter is complemented by Primo
Sindone (Chazz Palminteri), the leader
of the other dominant family in New
York, who really can't understand all
this talk about "feelings."
Chazz Palminteri is, as always, a fine
contribution. His presence is perfectly
coupled with DeNiro's, especially as
Palminteri's character is still mob-like,
not questioning his lifestyle at all and
the ultimate bad guy with no moral
The contrasting on-screen personali-
ties of DeNiro and Crystal really drive
Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal shock visa Kudrow In "Analyze This."
William K. Mclnally
F KENNETH G. LIEBERTHAL
William Davidson Professor of
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan
Author of Governing China
Currently serving as
Special assistant to the President
and Senior Director for Asian Affairs
3) "u.s. Pol'icy in Asia"
I TUESDAY, MARCH 9,1999
University of Michigan Business School
Corner of Hill and Tappan Streets
the film's humor. The whiny antics of
DeNiro are quite the opposite of what
we'd expect from his robust personality
given his past roles. Combining this
with Crystal's sarcastic demeanor, cre-@
ates jokes that one can't help but find
Unfortunately, though, the jokes at
times seems more forced than natural,
and only garner a chuckle rather than a
heart-felt belly laugh. One expects
more from these screen legends.
Accepting "Analyze This" as an
opportunity to laugh at a hard-core
mobster gone soft and dealing with his
inner-emotions, makes the film work.
It's a fun flick to catch, but there isn't
much more to it than that.
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