Welcome to hell: A two-hour-and-eighteen-minute movie about Selena, the late Tejano singing sensation. You think I'm joking? It's no joke -- in fact, I almost didn't make it to the film because when I called the theater, I nearly had a heart attack when the recorded voice announced the running time. Does this mean if Barbra Streisand strokes out suddenly I'll have to sit through a 9-part "Shoah"-like epic? God help us all.
Aside from the fact that Selena met a tragic end, there really isn't much of a story here beyond "woman becomes famous singer." How they arrived at the tortuously long 2:18 is anybody's guess. Cut out the musical numbers, the whining sequences, the bus rides, the "Woodstock" rip-off shots and all the interminably long scenes of Edward James Olmos saying stuff like "you'll be the first successful female Tejano cross-over artist ever and it will be really important," and you could conceivably cough and miss the entire film.
The press notes make a big deal about what a major effort they undertook to find the right woman to play Selena -- only to end up with Jennifer Lopez, an actress the director, Gregory Nava, had already worked with on his previous film, "My Family." How convenient. Too bad for all those thousands of women who waited in casting lines across the country, whose dreams proved to be nothing more than fodder for some cynical Hollywood publicity stunt. If only the filmmakers had diverted some of that effort into finding the actress who plays Selena as a child. Apparently, they just picked the first Mexican-looking girl who could whine for thirty minutes without passing out.
"Selena" evokes the same feeling as a true-crime book, the kind that hits the presses a few weeks after a murder promising to "explain it all." The filmmakers promise an ending guaranteed to satisfy morbid curiosity. Unfortunately, audience members who survive that long will wish they hadn't.
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