on 28 February 2006
One thing about this film puzzles me. I cannot understand why Richter (Eric Stoltz) is about to lose his job. All he has to do is review a film. Dude, it isn't that hard! Okay, he has a lot on his mind. He has, after all, just scared away a beautiful woman who looks like Cameron Diaz. Note to Diaz's fans: she is only in the film at the very beginning. Plus, Richter's mother (Mary Tyler Moore) is being horrible to him. I was pleased that Tyler Moore's character is not just a caricature: she gets a chance to explain her nastiness.
Plus, Richter is clearly not that keen on his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to his colleague Louise (Randy Graff), it is full of people who casually tell racist jokes. The credits suggest that it was filmed not in Oklahoma, but in Texas. Probably a wise move.
Perhaps Richter would get more work done if he were not mixed up with the Stover family: Clem, Vicky and Ronnie. Clem, or maybe Clam, it is hard to tell with her mother's Southern accent, is a baby whom we occasionally hear but never see. It is probably just as well they didn't cast a real baby, given the amount of smoking around Clem's carrycot. Clem, according to her mother, can crawl, but only backwards. I think that is a great line. It is funny, it is true to life (there are rosebuds in Radiant Rose's family who used to do the same!) and it tells us a lot about how Vicky sees herself.
Ronnie Stover is played by James Spader, although if you are only familiar with his "devious blonde yuppie" films, you might not notice. This is one of the films where he plays a dark-haired non-posh person: the others are "The Music of Chance" and "Slow Burn". Ronnie is foul-mouthed, gun-toting, drug dealing, blackmailing, wife beating ... and not even the villain of the film! I think that says a lot.
Vicky Michaels Stover (Deborah Kara Unger) is sexy and desperate. Unger also played Spader's wife in the Cronenberg film "Crash". There, as here, they have a very creepy sexual chemistry.
I was unsure whether I wanted Richter to end up with Vicky or with Cherry (Joanna Going). Cherry initially comes across as very weak, but proves to be pleasingly defiant and strong. I thought it was interesting to see someone with such a flat chest playing as a topless dancer. (Cherry states that the stage name Chesty seemed inappropriate. Therefore, her chest size is part of the storyline.)
I also liked some of the outfits Cherry wears, such as the tartan pinafore and the red tutu. She does not, alas, wear both together.
My favourite accessory is the luminous lime green cocktail at the end. If items that we do not see count, then the didgeridoo on the soundtrack is my second favourite.
I was not keen to watch this film again when I decided to review it. However, I enjoyed myself. Perhaps it is better the third time around, when you have worked out exactly who is who.
Stoltz and Spader have worked together on screen 5 times. That includes 3 films: this, "Two Days in the Valley" and "Striking Back" (US title: "The New Kids"). On TV they were in "A Killer in the Family" and "Greasy Lake". This is my favourite out of these 5. They are very talented. This is a good film. There are some great lines. The pace never drags. You'll like it, unless, perhaps you are from Tulsa ...
This review refers to the VHS version.