Michael

Bomb Rating: 

If you're one of the few people who leave the theater not feeling like you've had a two-by-four shoved up your rear end, count yourself blessed.

Let's face it, Andie MacDowell's casting in any movie is Hollywood's version of puppy kicking. How could anybody be so cruel? I prepared for her latest role with some acclimatization therapy, watching all of her movies once and -- this is the kind of stamina it takes to be Mr. Cranky -- "Four Weddings and a Funeral" twice. Having endured the kind of torture that would kill lesser men, I entered the theater thinking myself ready for anything -- that is, until the protagonist of the film, a strange angel named Michael (John Travolta), encouraged her to sing some country music.

Unless you're one of those special people whose masturbatory fantasies involve Andie MacDowell and country music, this is the kind of moment that makes you wish theater seats had "eject" levers on them. Imagine, rather than writhing in agony with the rest of the theatergoers, you could simply pull a lever and -- whoosh! -- shoot right up through the theater's ceiling into the blessed silence of the night sky. Of course, there's always a chance that you'll splat into the rafters like a mosquito into a car windshield, but either way, you'll be assured a welcome release.

Alas, that technology is not yet with us, so we're forced to writhe as Andie and a couple of other employees from the "National Mirror" investigate an angel sighting. Dorothy (MacDowell), along with writer Frank Quinlan (William Hurt), Huey (Robert Pastorelli) and the National Mirror's mascot, dog Sparky, show up at Pansy Milbank's (Jean Stapleton) house in Iowa to check Michael out.

This film is to sincerity what Ted Bundy is to sorority mixers. Failing to generate much emotional release with Andie's crooning, director Nora ("Sleepless in Seattle") Ephron and her staff of crack writers do the next best thing -- they run over the cute doggy with a big truck. This is the screenwriting version of emotional sodomy. If you're one of the few people who leave the theater not feeling like you've had a two-by-four shoved up your rear end, count yourself blessed.

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