America's Sweethearts

Bomb Rating: 

What writer Billy Crystal and director Joe Roth are trying to do here is make a commentary on certain aspects of Hollywood culture without really offending anyone. After all, the opportunity may arise to sleep with one of these bitchy, overbearing beauties, and who would want to blow that?

Consequently, the only remotely realistic characters are the ones who couldn't do much damage were they to recognize themselves. For instance, Billy Crystal's Lee, the press agent for the studio, is basically a real person and does believable things. That's because nobody in this film is going to be threatened by a press agent who shows up at Joe Roth's office complaining of being ruined. Roth's goons would almost certainly just beath the guy to death with a Lexus hubcap or a platter of sushi or whatever else was handy.

An even more realistic character is Julia Roberts' Kiki, essentially a personal assistant to her sister, Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She falls in love with Gwen's ex-husband and co-star, Eddie Thomas (John Cusack). Basically, Kiki lets Gwen piss all over her and treat her like dirt, because everybody knows that's what personal assistants live for. The rest of the characters, however, are all caricatures -- amalgamations of different features, all carefully exaggerated so as not to provoke the wrath of anyone powerful. Frankly, this movie should just have been a cartoon.

The attitude of this movie is revealed in the fake films made by America's sweethearts, Gwen and Eddie. Clips are shown at the beginning of the movie, and each one is so painfully bad that they couldn't possibly be successful. In other words, it's Billy Crystal telling his acting and directing buddies "Look, see, I'm exaggerating! Surely this isn't about anything real, such as your abominable behavior!" The studio head, Kingman (Stanley Tucci) is a drooling idiot and the director (Christopher Walken) of the film Gwen and Eddie are supposed to be reunited for, is a recluse.

And before I forget, what exactly is the deal with Hank Azaria? He plays Gwen's Spanish lover in this film, but he's got the same accent he used in "The Birdcage," which I think was a Cuban accent. Again, he doesn't really play a person so much as a freakish version of his most overdone performance. "America's Sweethearts" essentially pretends to have some insight into the murky depths of the industry, the promptly chickens out before even dipping a single manicured toe into those depths.

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