America's Sweethearts

Boasting an impressive cast and a tepid script, America's Sweethearts never fully actualizes its potential. It never is as funny or as clever as it wants to be, leaving the viewer with a half-hearted romantic comedy and/or satire of movie junkets. The fact that it is utterly familiar also makes it less enjoyable. Is there any real chance that this movie will not have a happy ending? Doubtful. America's Sweetheart's is just not funny or engaging enough to hold one's attention for the duration. It's not that interesting watching actors play stuck-up actors and listening to old jokes in a by-the-numbers formula story. America's sweethearts are Gwen Harrison and Eddie Thomas, a superstar married couple. Each movie they appear in is wildly popular.

Gwen (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Traffic, High Fidelity) left Eddie (John Cusack, High Fidelity, Being John Malkovich) for Hector (Hank Azaria, Mystery Men, Cradle Will Rock), an annoying Spaniard. Eddie has a nervous breakdown, and Gwen's movie career tanks. America wants to see Eddie and Gwen together. This does not bode well for their last movie together. The director (Christopher Walken, Joe Dirt, The Opportunists) is holding the film hostage until the end of the press junket, and its up to agent Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Analyze This) to placate the press while the film reels remains out of his hands. He schemes to get Gwen and Eddie to attend the junket together, acting as if they are back together so the good publicity will turn into box office profits.

Eddie still pines after Gwen, and Gwen wants a divorce. Writers Crystal and Peter Dolan (Bedazzled, Analyze This) throw in Kiki (Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich, The Mexican), Gwen's sister and personal assistant, into the mix. Kiki has a crush on Eddie, but will not admit it. And whether he knows it or now, Eddie has a crush on Kiki. Oh no! Gwen is a totalitarian prima donna, and Kiki is her harried subject. She loves her sister too much to complain, and puts up with all of her Napoleonic antics. Roberts is quite good as Kiki. It's probably because this is more of a supporting role for her compared to most of her recent films, and it's nice to see her in a different type of role (in terms of size).

Roberts does the best job of the cast. Cusack and Zeta-Jones play people who are too one-dimensional to matter. It's all good on a superficial level, but there is no meat to their characters or their performances. Azaria is simply a disgrace. His character is just not funny. Crystal, Stanley Tucci (Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, Joe Gould's Secret) and Seth Green (Josie and the Pussycats, The Trumpet of the Swan) do not have enough screen time to be bad or good, but Green and Crystal, in one of the funniest moments, have a nice exchange about Breakfast at Tiffany's. This is the first directorial outing for Joe Roth (Coupe de Ville, Revenge of the Nerds II) in over a decade, as well as the largest film to date from his fledgling Revolution Studios. It was not worth the wait, and is no revolution.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 44 minutes, Rated PG-13 for language, some crude and sexual humor.

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