Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

When I see a mediocre movie and I'm upset about it afterwards, that's usually a reflection of wasted potential. None of these actors are bad (John Travolta actually works fairly hard), but they simply cannot find the rhythm to make this material work. The movie alternates between scenes of glaringly obvious intentions (watch out for that truck little doggie!) and bizarre lulls in which we, and indeed the film itself, cannot guess what effect it wants to achieve. It also makes for such a comprehensive study of film clich├ęs that screenwriting students could use it as a reference guide. I could go on and on with gripes (why does it take them three days to drive from Iowa to Chicago? what does Andie MacDowell see in William Hurt? why do the DVD cast credits list birth-and-death dates for the actors when all of them were still living at the time? why can't Randy Newman let twenty seconds of screen time pass without introducing more blaring country music on the soundtrack?), but the movie has its charms. There are several big laughs, more than one of them at the expense of tabloid newspapers, and its weird charm works largely to the efforts of John Travolta. I rented it to see Robert Pastorelli one last time and was disappointed that he didn't get to deliver any jokes (who in the hell casts Robert Pastorelli as the straight man to William Hurt?), but I did not regret seeing it. It's a pleasant waste of time.

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