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Video Reviews

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Comedy, Romance
Cast
Julia Roberts as Kiki Harrison; Billy Crystal as Lee Phillips; Catherine Zeta-Jones as Gwen Harrison; John Cusack as Eddie Thomas; Hank Azaria as Hector; Stanley Tucci as Dave Kingman; Christopher Walken as Hal Weidmann
Director
Joe Roth
Distributor
Columbia Pictures
Reviewer
Steven Isaac
America's Sweethearts

America's Sweethearts

Gwen and Eddie are big-screen stars, big-screen lovers and real-life sweethearts. They even manage to get married before self-destructing. But self-destruct they do. Separated for a year and a half, the pair awaits the release of their last movie together, Time Over Time. Fans wait breathlessly to see if Gwen and Eddie will get back together for one last hurrah. And it’s studio publicist Lee Phillips’ job to see that it happens.

Lee finds Eddie holed up in a "wellness center" getting his head shrunk by Indian therapists. Gwen is shacked up with a hunky Spaniard. Lee has a lot of work to do! Wading neck deep into giant egos, bruised hearts and childish petulance, Lee pulls off a joint press junket at a Nevada resort for the movie’s premiere. (The film isn’t even done yet, but the publicity machine knows no rewind.) Once in Nevada, Eddie and Gwen square off, wedging sweet Kiki, Gwen’s subservient sister, squarely in-between them.

positive elements: Entertainment Weekly calls it a "Hollywood farce." And it is. But some eagle-eyed moviegoers will get more out of it than others. Sweethearts’ hyperbole forcibly creates the following valuable insights. 1) The twinkling lights of Tinseltown only gleam as brightly as the nearest press junket. 2) Fame, money and good looks won’t make you happy. Indeed, they may actually make life an insufferable morass (read Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 for Solomon’s pre-Hollywood take on that). 3) Love stinks if you’re only in it for the feelings it gives you. And most importantly, 4) Just because your publicist acts like your friend doesn’t mean he won’t sell your soul on eBay if it’ll drive up the box office numbers.

spiritual content: The Indian wellness center and its therapists radiate Hindu stereotypes, but it serves as a comical backdrop, not a sermon.

sexual content: Almost as bad as your typical episode of Friends. Innuendoes and jokes galore. Among them a reference to having sex with Castro. It’s implied that Eddie and Kiki spend the night together. Gwen caresses Hector’s (clothed) crotch with her boot. Two running gags fixate on masturbation and the size of a man’s anatomy. One such incident involves videotape of Eddie pulling cactus splinters out of his crotch. The angle makes it appear as if he is masturbating. The footage ends up on the news—pain/sexual sound effects included. A Doberman licks Lee’s crotch (twice). Both scenes are played for laughs but edge uncomfortably close to perversity when Lee gives the dog instructions on where to lick and apologizes for "not writing." Gwen is shown getting dressed, putting on a shirt over her bra. She’s also shown sudsed up in the bath. Playing to the press, Eddie makes up a story about he and Gwen participating in "three way" sex with Hector. In the movie-within-a-movie Time Over Time, Gwen cavorts as a cabaret dancer, moving suggestively and allowing men to touch her sexually.

violent content: Eddie tangles with Gwen’s Spanish lover, Hector, in a restaurant brawl. Hector knocks Eddie cold with a food tray. A flashback shows Eddie driving his motorcycle through a plate-glass window in an attempt to hurt or kill Gwen and her lover. He fantasizes about shooting Gwen with a pistol. Trying to rescue Eddie from what he thinks is a suicide attempt, Lee knocks him off a roof, then rescues him. Elsewhere, the same Doberman that licked Lee mauls a window washer.

crude or profane language: Far too front-and-center for a PG-13. One angry f-word and nearly 20 s-words lead the way. Jesus’ name is abused several times, and anatomical slang flies.

drug and alcohol content: Wine and beer are part of the high life. Eddie jokes about taking Vicodin and frequently pops pills, which he says are "natural" and "holistic."

other negative elements: Lee and his studio cronies go so far as to joke about arranging Eddie’s suicide on the day of the premiere to boost public interest.

conclusion: America’s sweethearts aren’t very sweet, are they? There’s really no one to cheer for. Eddie is self-absorbed, muddled and sated by fame. Gwen is peevish, demanding and obsessed with the lifestyle her money provides. Lee is manipulative and unfeeling. Kiki is all too willing to sleep with her sister’s husband. Okay, fine. It is a farce after all, and the characters aren’t supposed to be warm and fuzzy. That’s a time-worn Hollywood convention. When director Joe Roth first read the script, he "was caught up in the tone and the humor of the screenplay." "I love the movies from the 1930s and ‘40s," he says. "The great gang comedies of the past ... the Sturges films and the Capra films where an entire cast of characters comes together. Audiences have been deprived of this lately." True, but something they haven’t been deprived of lately are large doses of the very kind of crass sexual humor that permeates Roth’s movie. Couldn’t he have copied Capra just a little bit more?

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