Star Wars Redux
Notting Hill


Just the facts (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database).

Director: Alexander Payne. Writers: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor III.Tagline: Reading, Writing, Revenge. Plot: An overachiever running for student body president is opposed by an unlikely candidate. Matthew Broderick:Jim McAllister:Reese Witherspoon:Tracy Flick:Chris Klein:Paul Metzler. Rated R for strong sexuality, sex-related dialogue and language, and a scene of drug use. 103 minutes.

Hey, at least it wasn't too long!

This movie reminds me why I find the MPAA rating system so annoying and useless sometimes. I went to see it with my two daughters. There were some scenes of simulated sex and one pot-smoking scene. But usually, strong sexual language means multiple uses of the f-word.

Now for some reason, I'm not really offended by "What the f is going on here," or "you really f'ed up this one," or even the way Eddie Murphy uses the f-word twice a sentence. But in this movie there's one scene where the unlikely candidate says "I was surprised when Lisa came home and gave me…" and another where he said, "So I went to her house every day and we…" I must be some odd kind of prude, but when it is used casually in the original sexual sense, I find it much more offensive then when it is used as an expletive. Frankly, I wouldn't take anyone to this film whom you don't consider an adult.

Well, at least it wasn't too long. And, by the way, expect big things from Chris Klein, who plays Paul Metzler in this film. He resembles Keanu Reeves, my daughters noted, both physically and in the ease with which he plays a slack-jawed slacker. They were sure they'd seen him in other films, but it must have been television, because he only other credits are the unreleased American Pie and Here On Earth.

Now, as for the film itself. With six minutes of gratuitous crudity cut, it would have been an exquisite PG-13 meditation on the nature of morals and ethics, as demonstrated by the irrational dislike of a dead-end mid-life crisis-afflicted civics teacher (Broderick/McAllister) for a totally amoral, driven over-achiever (Witherspoon/Flick). As it is, it is still makes all these important and thought-provoking points, but in an R-rated movie whose entertainment value is constantly being dragged down by unnecessary sex and sex talk.

McAllister's life has gone nowhere, he knows nothing will stop Flick from reaching the top, and it drives him insane. Plus, she has an affair with his best faculty friend that destroys the man's marriage and life. As a result of his efforts to destroy Flick, McAllister instead destroys his marriage and life. This is high school life writ large, in an accurate, devastating, amusing and entertaining piece of work that is flawed, but still worth seeing. I'm sure the airline version will be a better movie.


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