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April 11, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-04-11

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Suck my 'Killer's Kiss'

The Michigan Theater concludes its
seme1erc Stanley Kubrick screenings
with what most consider his first fe)-
ture film, the 67-minure noir "Killer's
Kiss." Starts at 7 pam.
michigandaily.com /arts

ARTS

TUESDAY
APRIL 11, 2000

Funny nuances
'Return' comedy
to romance flick

'Rumble' takes a .
tumble in theaters

By Jeff Druchniak
Weekend, Etc. Editor
It's perhaps easier to make a bad
romantic comedy than any other
genre of films. So those interested in
taking "Return to Me" out on a date
should be forewarned before making
a move for second base - it's any-
thing but easy.
Everyone else should be pleasant-
ly surprised by the clever and pol-
ished way this unassuming little
movie unfolds, especially if they
brought a real, live date of their own.

Return
to Me
Grade: B
At Quality 16
and Showcase

The movie's
advance buzz
has been so
scarce, it's
almost in the
negative col-
umn. This leads
one to feel
resigned that
Bonnie Hunt is
about to make
the momentous
leap from
America's most
underappreciated
comedic actress
underappreciated

about her former infirmity and sub-
sequent surgery, because it never
fails to change their perception of
her - usually to condescension. So
she wears high-cut necklines or
scarves to hide the scar on her ster-
num and stays within the protective
orbit of her boisterous, happy-go-
lucky extended family. She doesn't
even work up the nerve to send an
anonymous thank-you note to the
family of her organ donor for over a
year.
Meanwhile, Grace waits tables in
her Irish grandfather's Italian restau-
rant (the kind of place where the
owner will stand you to a pint after
hours and that will never exist in this
lifetime, especially in Chicago).
Meanwhile. Bob, a successful build-
ing contractor, works to fulfill his
late wife's dream by building a new.
lavish home for her beloved apes and
monkeys at the zoo for which she
worked and fundraised.
Of course these two will manage
to meet, and of course their buddin
romance will encounter deep
emotional complications, but Hunt
keeps her cast in a fictional world of
such meticulously pleasant spirits,
it's difficult to keep the cliches in
mind long enough to get annoyed.
Hunt actually employs not one, but
two overly cute animals .(Mel, the
bulky dog of indeterminate ancestry
and Sidney, the sensitive gorilla),
without becoming treacly or belabor-
ing the point. The point is even worth
making on its own dramatic merits:
Bob has to resist withdrawing into his
fur-covered and less loquacious fam-
ily no less than Grace does with her
human one.
David Duchovny, it is true. will
never be a leading man of megawatt
voltage. He's as dead behind the eves
as ever here, but Hunt directs and

"X-Files" agent David Duchovny trades in his badge for some heart:1
Wilson's, but Minnie Driver's in "Return To Me."

By David Victor
Daily Arts Writer
There was this weird guy in my
hall last year, every Thursday night,
or whenever that godforsaken show
was on, he would watch "WCW
Nitro" and try to convince us
wrestling was worth watching. He
wore those stupid T-shirts and every-
thing. I wouldn't be surprised if this
guy, and others like him, would
appreciate "Ready to Rumble." He
was since driven out of our hall by
force, but that random act of kind-
ness did not stop "Rumble" from

Courtesy of MGM
no not Nancy

being made. This
Ready to
Rumble
Grade: D-
At Quality 16
and Showcase

film exemplifies
everything I hate
about profes-
sional wrestling
in all its crass-
ness, showman-
ship, and ov'rall
lameness.
Don't get me
wrong, wrestlers
command a cer-
tain amount of
respect for their
hillbilly-enter-
taining antics;
AIIst watch
"Beyond the

to America's most

comedic writer-director.
Hunt, who co-wrote her directing
debut, is disarmingly in command of
the entire experience for a rookie.
The setup is simple: On the same
night that the blissful marriage of
Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is
ended by his wife's death in a car
wreck, Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver)
receives the heart transplant that
saves her life and allows her for the
first time to live what others might
consider a "normal" lifestyle.
Except that Grace feels many
things, but never normal, about it.
She's reluctant for others to find out

writes for his character so smoothly,
the audience's sympathies transcend
the customarv flatness of Duchovnv's
sensitive-wiseass persona.
With the more difficult role of the
lifelong shrinking violet overcoming
her insecurities, Driver never
becomes grating, turning in some of
her more relentlessly charmin- work.
The rest of her wacky family is simi-
larly excellent, especially Carroll
O'( onnor and Robert Loggia's odd-
couple act as Grace's grandfather and
his head chef/Italian brother-in-law,
respectively. These two old pros not
only have more chemistry than any
other couple in this movie, they sur-
pass all the couples in all the
Hollywood romantic comedies in at
least the past year.
Hunt herself, as Grace's sensibly
zany cousin, and James Belushi as
her' fireman husband (essentially
playing Homer Simpson with a
propensity to do somersaults), are as
game and agreeable as the rest of the
cast. even while shepherding around
a seemingly endless brood of rugrats

whom, thankfully, the movie never
obliges us to get to know.
Hunt fills the movie with smart
nuances and small twists on the for-
mula, from goony and laughter-
inducing to genuinely touching. This
goes for the leading roles - witness
Grace's butterflies at racing the
neighborhood kids on a bike, having
only been able to ride one for a few
months. Or when Mel the dog
declines to stop waiting for the lady
of the house to come home - on the
first night that Bob knows she won't
be coming home anymore - until
Bob, strung, out with grief, throws in
the towel and sits down on the floor
to wait with Mel.
But Hunt's bag of tricks extends to
the smallest parts which might be
throwaways in other movies, like ex-
Father Rudy, the former priest
attempting to become a swinging sin-
gle. There are even two, count 'em.
two Chicago Cubs jokes for fans of
the luckless baseball team. Throwx in
a tastefully neato soundtrack
anchored by the Dean Martin title
tune, and a couple of scenes of Italian
cinematography, and "Return to Me"
might be the rare i'omantic comedy
worth returning to.
I SCOREKEEPES

Mat," a behind-the-scenes profes-
sional 'wrestling documentary.
However, unless you are brainless
(or a bona fide frat boy), I hope to
high heaven you will find "Rumble"
a waste of your hard-earned pennies.
"Rumble" is the heart-warming
story of two toilet cleaners (David
Arquette and Scott Caan) who love
wrestling. How's that for poetic jus-
tice? Their flabby wrestler idol,
known as The King (Oliver Platt),
has lost his championship rank and
the two fans become determined to
bring him back to the ring. What fol-
lows is a mindless mess of angry
wrestlers (including real-life grap-
plers Goldberg and Diamond Dallas
Page), cleavage (supplied by Rose
McGowan) and raw sewage by the
tankerful.
Director Brian Robbins ("Varsity
Blues") has little to work with from
screenwriter Steven Brill, who made
his name peddling the child-friendly,
formulaic "Mighty Ducks" movies.
The result is a film written for chil-
dren with gags for teens laid on top
of sweaty, latently homoerotic activ-
ities one would be hard pressed to
call "entertainment." Hmmm,..

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
David Arquette stars in "Ready to
Rumble." Viewer beware.
thanks, but no thanks, guys'
Wrestling aside, there's lots not to
like in this film. First of all, the-
actors are horribly miscast. Oliver
Platt is good at playing paunchy
swashbucklers ("Three
Musketeers") or a strung-out cam-;
paign manager ("Bulworth"), but a
wrestler? Gimme a break. I was al
disheartened to see Cypher from
"The Matrix" (JToe Pantoliano) play-
ing a mean manager in this film.
Doesn't he have anything better to
do ? Also, Martin Landau, of whom
one could politely describe as
"lanky," is the coach trying to return
The King to the top of his game. If
you're going to make a movie about
wrestling, some actors with muscles
may actually raise the credibility
scale to "not quite hooey" leve*.
Arquette and Caan try to resurrect
that special "Dumb and Dumber"
idiotic humor, but end up settling
with just idiotic.
I may have laughed once in the
film, or maybe it was in the pre-
views. Go see "Beyond the Mat" if
you crave wrestling on the big
screen, oi' just grab your roommate
in a headlock until he/she retur
the favor with an atomic piledrive,
In any case, if you value your brain
at all, do not see "Ready to
Rumble."

ml

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