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July 19, 1999 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-07-19

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.0 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 19, 1999

Drop Dead Gorgeous
New Line Cinema
At Showcase starting Friday
***I
Since "Fargo" it's been chic in film to
poke fun at the Midwest and its resi-
dents' honey-sweet accent. Earlier this
summer "Election" took on Omaha,
Nebraska, and now "Drop Dead
Gorgeous" takes on Mount Rose,
Minnesota.
The film as a whole is a satire of not
only beauty pageants, but also of the
culture and refusal to change of Mount
Rose's citizens. Ruled by a fear of God
and love of all things "traditionally"
American, Mount Rose participates in
the time-honored beauty pageant.
But in Mount Rose, where according
to the richest woman in town, Gladys
Leeman (a wonderful Kirstie Alley),
"Jesus loves a winner," something is
askew. First a contestant dies in a horri-
ble tractor accident, then a boy who
likes contestant Amber Atkins (Kirsten
Dunst) over Leeman's daughter Becky
(Denise Richards) winds up dead in a
hunting accident. But the intrigue does-
n't end there - weird things keep hap-
pening to Amber when it's clear that she
should win the pageant.
Nothing is sacred in "Drop Dead
Gorgeous." Lona Williams' beautifully
written, hysterical script skewers every-
thing from retarded people (referred to
as "retards" throughout the film) and
trailer park trash to Christians and gun
enthusiasts. Yet at the same time the

film has its heart in the right place with
its story of the overprivileged rich girl
versus the deserving poor girl.
In his debut film, director Michael
Patrick Jann takes his brand of offbeat
humor (he founded the comedy troupe
"The State," which performed for a
time on MTV) and applies it to the lives
of an isolated town.
The thing that eventually undoes an
otherwise perfect film is the length.
"Drop Dead Gorgeous" goes on 15
minutes passed where it should have
ended. Though the end of the movie is
funny, it also feels tacked on. Williams
and Jann don't know when to leave
good enough alone, giving the movie a
Hollywood cliche feel.
Still, the wonderful acting helps to
gloss over the film's problems. Alley
has never been better, and has been
waiting for a role to thrust her back into
the spotlight after "Cheers." But she
and the rest of the strong supporting
cast all play second fiddle to Dunst.
After her breakout role in "Interview
with the Vampire," Dunst has been in
need of a role to give her the transition
from child actor to serious actor. This
role gives her the opportunity for a
bright future as the most talented young
actress in Hollywood and beyond.
This summer has shown little in the
way of innovation. "Drop Dead
Gorgeous" is amongst a trio of summer
comedies (along with the aforemen-
tioned "Election" and "American Pie")
to do something worth taking note of in
this muggy weather.
Ed Sho/inskvr

Brendan Gleeson battles a 30-ft. crocodile and a bad film in "Lake

PLACID
Continued from Page 8
ogist Kelly Scott as an Ally clone, or
perhaps bastard stepchild, given to
fits of whiny tantrums and cooing
flirtation. Based in New York City,
she is inexplicably (remember that
word, because you're going to see it
a lot) sent to backwoods Maine to
examine a tooth found in the flesh of
a man who had the unfortunate luck
to be a croc snack.
Once there, Kelly makes fun of
bumbling sheriff Hank Keogh
(Brendan Gleeson, the lone bright
spot in this deep blue pond) and the
slightly more competent fish and
wildlife warden Jack Wells (Bill
Pullman). Then, inexplicably, she
refuses to go back to the city, pre-
,umably because it would cause both
she and everyone else involved to be
much happier. Instead, she joins the
men and their deputies out by the
offending lake, trying to discover
what it is that's chowing down on
divers. A brief, inexplicable moment
of stupidity leads them to the lake-
front farm of Mrs. Bickerman (Betty
White), who spouts off such gems
as, "This is where, if I had a dick, I'd
tell you to suck it." Apparently her
golden mouth disappeared with her
series, "Golden Girls."
Inexplicably, Mrs. Bickerman also
has been feeding the big bad croc
and hiding his existence from the

general public. Inexplicably,
deputies get mauled and eaten in
their futile attempts to kill the rep-
tile. Inexplicably, Kelly and eccen-
tric croc worshiper Hector Cyr
(Oliver Platt, to whom no words in
the English language can do justice)
beg the lawmen to letthe beast live,
because we all know that even
though he's been eating humans like
they were Snausages, he's really not
such a bad sort.
Inexplicably, the beleaguered cast
must have been under the impression
that comedy was their forte. For
some of them, it is; just not in this
particular film.
There isn't much more to "Lake
Placid" than that. There's the obliga-
tory-yet-inexplicable love story
between Kelly and Jack, plus the
obligatory-yet-inexplicable arrival at
understanding and tolerance between
Kelly and Hank. In the end, this
inexplicably tedious romp (clocking
in at barely 80 minutes) offers more
snores than screams, and the only
horror is the idea that some of these
people actually wanted to make this
movie.
"Lake Placid" probably would
have played better as an episode of
"Ally McBeal," and there's no doubt
it will eventually end up as a cult
rental on the small screen. Too bad
nobody told David E. Kelley that
before they wasted their $23.99 on
publicity.

The World's Best
Commercials of
1998
At the Michigan Theater
"That was a wicked googly!"
Have you seen the American
Express commercial where Jerry
Seinfeld goes to Great Britain? If
not, it's one of the commercials
included in the 80 minutes worth in
this entertaining compilation, "The
World's Best Commercials of 1998'
Some of the commercials are
extremely funny, (such as the
Soesman Language Training com-
mercial from The Netherlands -
you've got to see this one!), some
leave you teary-eyed, while others
will leave you covered with goose-
bumps (the traffic law commercials
from Australia - wow).
Then there are there are the com-
mercials that are so bad you have t
wonder what the voters were smok
ing.
But the hodge-podge is worth a go,
however, especially if you watch the
Super Bowl for its commercials.
Jeremr Slvatori
The Wood
Paramount Pictures
At Showcase and Goodrich
As part of the latest craze in high
school related films "The Wood" is
yet another fun, cool, fast-paced,
boy-girl comedy.
The film actually starts off at the
end with gorgeous Roland (Taye
Diggs) experiencing a heavy case of
prenuptial jitters. Roland's best pals,
Mike (Omar Epps) and Slit
(Richard T. Jones) attempt to ease
their friend's evident anxiety when
they find themselves going down
memory lane.
While the three best friends
bounce back and forth between
childhood memories the most impor-
tant thing that they become aware of
is their inseperable friendship, no
matter how old they are.
"The Wood" is brilliant in the poWp
trayal of life experience. It shows a
somewhat different view of a mid-
dle-class black neighborhood set
against the unfortunate; frequently
shown example of poverty stricken,
drug-ridden neighborhoods in the
larger cities.
Although the cast is fairly large,
writer/director Rick Famuyiwa does
a terrific job managing the progres-
sion of each character. Famuyiw
adds humor into the reality of meW
reluctance to grow up and with the
awkwardness of their first-time
romantic experiences.
"The Wood" is loosely based on
Famuyiwa's memories of boyhood
pals and growing up in Inglewood,
California. And the personal touches
come through and make this movies
a worthwhile venture.
Great music, lots of laughs and tg
importance of good friends in life 's
what is at the core of this sly but
cleverly witty comedy, "The Wood."
a tr; Neke Sak. )

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Mindy Sterling, Ailey, Richards and Sam McMurray star In "Drop Dead Gorgeous."

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