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michigandaily.com/arts OCTOBER 10, 2000 8
De Niro, Stiller save
'Parents' from tired
Davis breaks little new
ground in ABC cornedy
By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Writer
All right, so maybe I've just seen too
many movies, too many comedies. It just
bothers me that Hollywood movies can-
not seem to bring us anything new. It's
not even to say that this film was bad, or
that I didn't enjoy
it. I just refuse to
be so cynical as to
believe that every
Meet the plot imaginable
Parents has already been
Grade: & used and we will
be forced to watch
At Showcase and
new versions of
Quaty 16 the same story
over and over
again. Yet, even
with a well done
film, like Jay
Roach's "Meet the
seems to be the case.
Let me give an example. When our
well-meaning protagonist, Greg Focker
(Ben Stiller) first arrives at the home of
the couple he hopes to make his in-laws
(Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner), he
learns three things. One: No one is to
flush the toilet in the den or the septic
tank will overflow. Two: The cat is only a
housecat and cannot be let outside.
Three: The remains of Greg's girlfriend's
beloved grandmother reside in an urn
over the fireplace. Okay, does anyone
have any doubt that Greg will flush the
toilet, let the cat outside and somehow
desecrate Granny's final resting-place'? I
didn't think so.
Predictability aside, all involved to a
wonderful job in this movie. Roach, a
veteran of the "Austin Powers" films,
appears to be the sort of director who
sets up his camera and allows his actors
to carry the iiovie.
My only complaint is that he takes so
much time to develop the film's better
gags, that some (such as Greg's perspec-
tive father in law having hidden, motion
detecting cameras all over the house) are
rushed and don't do the narrative any
good. His decision to allow the camera
to linger on De Niro and Stiller's faces,
though, saves the film from complete
mediocrity. Both actors excel, using
facial expression to near-genius comic
effect, and watching them wordlessly
react to one another is laugh-out-loud
The fact that De Niro already lam-
pooned his tough-guy image in"Analyze
This" does not take away fi-om his hilar-
The happy Introductions in Universal's "Meet the Parents." It's all fun and games until
you flush the toilet, let the cat out and desecrate Granny's remains.
ionus performance in this film.
ie brings as much thought and skill to
this performance as he did to his Jake La
Motta role in "Raging Bull." His over-
protective father is not the caricature it
could have easily become, but a real, lov-
ing, terrifying man. For any guy who has
ever met his girlfriend's father for the
first time and left the experience feeling
castrated, De Niro's performance may hit
too close to home.
Stiller can play basically one charac-
ter, but he plays it so well the audience is
usually willing to forgive him. ie does
quite well holding his own in scenes with
De Niro. Stiller also has the ability to
express emotions that his character can-
not get control of, especially anguish,
anger and fear. The rest of the cast holds
up just as well in smaller roles.
Blythe Danner is impeccable as a
mother that must try to save Greg from
her overbearing husband. HerStepford
wife-ish way of changing the subject,
or trying to make everything "okay"
would have been tragic in a serious film
and adds humorous tension here.
Character actors James Rebhorn and
Owen Wilson also bring depth and
humor to minor roles. Teri Polo
("Felicity"), as Greg's intended, needs
only be the pretty object of conflict
between Stiller and De Niro, and that is
all she does. Her's is the only character
lacking depth, which is a shame, and
constantly reminds the viewer that
we've seen this story several times
All in all the-film is good, but deriv-
ative. It's a fun date movie, or one to go
see for a few legitimate laughs with
your friends. It's just too bad that all this
talent and energy could not have been
put into something original.
By Jennifer Fogel
Daily TV/New Media Editor
Teddie Cochran (Geena Davis,
"Thelma & Louise") is a glamorous,
New York career woman who falls in
love with the man of her dreams, gets
engaged and is thrust into the trials and
tribulations of family life. The "Brady
Bunch" this isn't.
ABC's new "romantic comedy"
"The Geena Davis Show" showcases
Davis as the anti-Donna Reed. She
can't cook or clean, but she can jug-
gle political cau-
cuses and over-
ties. It also
The Geena seems that
Davis Show Teddie cannot
perfect the art of
Tuesdays at 9:30 herself into fam-
in with her new
to the breakfast
dressed in full view of her puberty-
stricken stepson, and fails to grasp
the concept of the housekeeper as
part of the family (Like Alice to the
Bradys). In other words, Teddie is
rockin' the boat.
Don't hang out the "Murphy
Brown" banner yet. "The Geena
Davis Show" is not going to spark
political debate any time soon. Sur
there is comedy, but Davis is
Lucille Ball. Davis relies sole e
her Amazon sex appeal and he
to carry the weight of the sitcor
Teddie's two stepchildren, the emi
tionally unstable six-year-old Eli
(Makenzie Vega) and thirteen-yea
old Carter (John Francis Dale
"Freaks and Geeks"), along with h.
two single, heavy drinking friend
multiple divorcee Hillary (Mit
Rodgers) and coworker Judy (Ki
Coles, "Living Single"), prt
many of the shows best moment't
a shame that A+ talent like Rodge
and Daley are wasted on an overdo
Still, you have to give the show poinj
for trying. The show can be witty at
fun. Davis in modern superwoman mo
is reminiscent of "I Love Lucy" hous
hold disasters, but it's hard to imagit
Teddie as an evil stepmother-she's tc
flamboyant. As her fiancee proclaim
"You do chaos with flair."
The same can be said for the '
Eliza and Carter provide the laug
and Hillary and Judy provide tI
witty slams, but Davis loses tl
cohesion of the show with her got
intentions. Davis tries her hest
make "The Geena Davis Shov
work, but to use Teddie's words, "I
leave it alone." Take her advice at
skip the family dysfunction. T
enough of it going around.
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Medical drama of 'Crossing' the fall season champ
By Jennifer Fogel the darkness of the television void.
ily TV/New Media Editor Starring Emmy winner Andre
-----~~ - - -Braugher, "Gideon's Crossing" chroni-
At the beginning of every new TV sea- cles the life of Dr. Ben Gideon, chief of
son, producers and networks pray that experimental medicine at a prestigious
they will find themselves with a hit show. Boston teaching hospital. Dr. Gideon
Most seasons this dreai seems far divides his attentions between physically
fetched. But this season a winner has treating patients with unorthodox meth-
been declared. ABC's "Gideon's ods and becoming emotionally involved
Crossing" can only be hailed as a light in in his patients' lives. Gideon relies on his
intuition and tries to instill the value of
becomiing a doctor to his residents and
q interns. He strives to overcome racial and
metaphorical black and white boundaries,
refusing to give up the good fight.
The premiere episode finds Gideon
reluctantly treating Kirk (played brilliant-
ly by Bruce McGill), a rich, racist man
stricken with an untreatable cancer. Kirk
begs Gideon for help, offering him any-
thing from money to his first-born.
Consistently told not to take the case,
Gideon refuses and eventually finds him-
self with a miracle.
To say that "Gideon's Crossing" is a
great show would be understatement.
Braugher is his usual amazing self, play-
ing Ben Gideon with grace and ease. He
is supported by a wonderfully diverse ca
that includes Ruben Blades as Ben's be
fiend and Russell Hornsby as Chi
Resident Boics. The storylin s are dr
matic and fun to explore. Unlike "EF
"Gideon's Crossing" focuses on two
three patients instead of countless a
less faces, giving the viewer a chae
become emotionally involved with eac
In the end, we can be as confused or ups
as the doctors. The premiere of"Gideo
Crossing" will be airtonight eommercit
free. It will regularly appear
Wednesday nights on ABC at 10-11pm
For a Few
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