Best of
lMovie Review
"America’s Sweethearts"
By Mira Harber
   What a cast! What a great idea for a story! Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Crystal even...This should be the funniest, most heart-warming movie of the summer season. But it’s not - what happened?
   America’s Sweethearts is the story of just that - a famous movie star couple, who really were America’s Sweethearts. Gwen (Catherine Zeta-Jones) & Eddie (John Cusak) delighted their fans with romantic hit after romantic hit until she leaves him for a completely over-the-top Latino lover (Hank Azaria). Gwen is a totally self-absorbed prima-donna whose every whim & desire is met by her assistant - her sister Kiki (Julia Roberts). Kiki was once a chubby bunny (she’s lost 60 pounds in the past year) but is now a swan who has secretly loved Eddie for years.
   Are you following this? The problem is that Gwen and Eddie made a movie before they split up and now the studio head Kingman (Stanley Tucci in a hilarious send-up of avarice and uncontrolled bad behaviour) wants them together, maybe even reconcilling?, in order to promote the movie. This is a pretty tall order, and who could fill it, but the Master of all Publicists, Lee ( Billy Crystal). 
   With a story and stars like that, how could this movie fail to score a home run? I’d start with the casting -  Billy Crystal is a little too, well, Billy Crystal in this movie. He does his usual shtick - ‘darling, you look marvelous’ to the nth degree, but haven’t we all  seen this before? He originally wanted the role of the movie star husband, but lost out to John Cusak, so he became the star publicist. This is as much his movie, if not more, than anyone else’s in the movie, and I think that’s also a problem. I didn’t come to see a movie about a publicist - I came to see a movie about America’s Sweethearts
   I really like John Cusak as an actor, but somehow he didn’t mesh with Catherine Zeta-Jones as the ‘star’ couple. She’s an old school type movie star - larger than life, and proud of it. John seems too modern, too hip to go for that kind of illusory image-making. He seems like a great fit with Julia though.
   There’s another problem - Julia puts on a fat suit and gains 60 pounds. How did she lose all that weight, and why? As anyone can tell you, losing 20 pounds is a feat - 60 is more like a miracle. Motivation, character development anyone?  All we know is that until now fat Julia has lived for her sister, but thin Julia is discovering and declaring herself to her sister, Eddie and the world.
   We’ve seen it before, the behind-the-scenes, real vs. reel life drama/comedy of the thespian life & the people who record it, avaricious, star-struck, substance abuse etc.etc. critics - problem is, we’ve seen it better before.
   Hector, Gwen’s Spanish lover, as played by Hank Azaria is funny for about 5 minutes (remember him as the ‘maid’ in BirdCage?), but enough already, the Castillian lisp rendered him almost incomprehensible for most of the movie, and it just wasn’t funny.
   Catherine Zeta-Jones is great in her part as Gwen, the self absorbed, ultra-narcissitic star. John Cusak is a terrifc actor, but not the traditional male lead, and he just isn’t a good fit in this role. Julia, well, she’s gorgeous as ever, and really does light up a room with her smile - but I think she’s wasted in this part. We don’t really understand what prompted such earth-shattering changes from her, and so we can’t really believe them.
   Would I see this movie? Maybe on television, but don’t waste the money, time and gas to go to the movies - it’s too much of a let-down. For a really good movie about the movies check out the old classic Singing in the Rain - now THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT.


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