Director Wayne Wang handles his movie with so little sense of urgency that viewers are at risk of falling asleep while waiting for it to approach its plot turns at something more than a few miles per hour.
Somebody tell me: When did Timothy Hutton become anorexic? There's a scene where corporate honcho Matthew Kragen (Hutton) is in a room with his mistress, Ms. Burns (Alicia Witt), and Hutton turns sideways and you'd swear he was doing an impression of the gingerbread man. He reminded me of Jeffrey Katzenberg. I don't know if I've ever told this story, but I was in Orlando at a premiere and I was leaning next to a palm tree when I noticed the guy leaning on the other side of the palm tree was all ripped, but exceedingly thin and about four foot six. It was Katzenberg. I immediately understood why there were so many stories about the man trying to exercise his power. I've had poos bigger than Katzenberg's head.
This is all to say that Hutton has the same characteristics here. Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) meets him in Europe after she quits her job and commits to blowing her life savings after discovering she has a fatal disease. She stays at some ritzy hotel where she's mistaken for somebody important. At that point, she proceeds to teach the rich and powerful about making friends and influencing people.
The whole thing is a rather disturbing, offensive lesson in how to be a good capitalist. Georgia's life is miserable because she doesn't take chances, but also because she doesn't spend money. She doesn't ask out the guy she's hot for, Sean Matthews (LL Cool J), and she doesn't buy what she really wants. In fact, she supplements her desire for Sean with purchases from his department and tries to impress him that way. At home, she cooks fancy meals she doesn't eat. When she learns she's going to die, from her company's HMO doctor (oh, if Georgia only had money, she never would have been misdiagnosed), she decides to blow her entire savings at a hotel in Europe where Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu) runs the restaurant.
Hobnobbing among the rich and famous, Georgia is a mystery. Not only do the Matthew Kragens and Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito) of the world not recognize her, they don't understand her attitude toward money and attitude toward people. Because she spends lavishly and enjoys it and is nice to people, they're determined to understand who she is. However, conversely, this gives Georgia credit in the world of the rich. It makes her somebody. It's the spending that makes her somebody, not the attitude.
From what I could figure, the whole point of the movie was to understate everything. Queen Latifah and LL Cool J are quiet, reserved, and always understated. It's as if the filmmakers set out to prove that rappers can be people too. Director Wayne Wang handles his movie with so little sense of urgency that viewers are at risk of falling asleep while waiting for it to approach its plot turns at something more than a few miles per hour.
If this movie was meant to be a holiday, hopefully it's my last.
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