Brokedown Palace

At its best, Brokedown Palace is okay. At it's worst, it is a very large piece of fromage. Alice (Claire Danes, The Mod Squad, Les Miserables ) and Darlene (Kate Beckinsale, The Last Days of Disco, Shooting Fish) have just graduated from high school. They are the best of friends, and decide to have one last adventure together, before going their separate ways to college. They tell their parents they are going to Hawaii, but really head off for Thailand, where they can really have some fun. There, they meet an Australian (Daniel Lapaine, Say You'll Be Mine, 54) who promises to take them on a trip to Hong Kong. He gives them a package, and at the airport, the police stop them and find drugs. Then, they are thrown in jail on trumped up charges, and no one believes that they are innocent, except for American lawyer "Yankee" Hank (Bill Pullman, Lake Placid, Zero Effect) and his wife.

None of the important stuff happens until after the first third of the movie. Instead of moving the plot forward, you get to watch Alice and Darlene do touristy stuff around Bangkok. It's almost like watching your neighbor's vacation videos. Painful in large doses. Ths was probably done to help set up the dichotomy between the fun they were having on vacation and the misery they experienced in prison, but is just gets boring. Watching the preview for this movie gives away pretty much all of the plot, except for the ending, which is very contrived and meant to make you cry, if you're that kind of person. Each plot twist makes you want to cringe. Alice and Darlene are very different people, and you kind of wonder why they are friends. Darlene is the classic goody two shoes girl, and Alice is more the wild type. By the middle of the movie, you want to slap both of them, and kind of wish they would stay in jail. Their fathers have no real depths, they can be summarized as mean dad who wants to help his daughter and not help her friend and nice dad who wants to help but has no money.

Claire Danes got in big trouble during post production for this movie. During an interview, she described how much she disliked the conditions in the Philippines (where the movie was filmed) and how everything was dirty and everyone was rude. The Philippines promptly banned her and her movies from their country. Danes, who is sometimes really good and sometimes really bad both in choosing her roles and performing, is unfortunately really bad here. Beckinsale has been the darling of many critics for the past couple years, and this probably wasn't the best way to break out into the mainstream. Lou Diamond Phillips (Another Day in Paradise, The Big Hit) is probably the best thing about this movie, but he has too little screen time to make a difference. The film also resembles another, much better film, Return to Paradise.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
I hour, 40 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language, some violence, and a little drug content.