Ludicrous as morality or theology but passable as light entertainment (despite the lame try at jaunty theme music), writer-director Daniel Taplitz’s comedy-drama concerns a man (Aidan Quinn) who loses his wife, home, and job and is even hit by a bolt of lightning. He then resolves to defy God by breaking all of the Ten Commandments. Since this, like most commercial American movies, is about capitalist male ownership, the bad luck of the hero’s wifenot to mention the welfare of his community relative to his lossesis never remotely at issue; what’s at stake is God’s respect for a man’s private property. With Courteney Cox and Anthony LaPaglia. (JR)
Its paper-thin characters turned into caricatures by egregious hamming, this 1996 Japanese comedy drama about shy ballroom dancers is sentimental goo and downright interminable. Clearly pitched to the Strictly Ballroom market, it’s strident and glib enough to corner it. Good luck and all that, but count me out. Written and directed by Masayuki Suo. In Japanese with subtitles. PG-13, 118 min. (JR)
Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow play best friends who decide with some trepidation to attend their high school reunion. Despite the aggressive silliness of this enjoyable comedy, the emotional focus on the painful social experience of high school makes the film real and immediate, and the flavorsome dialogue in Robin Schiff’s script gives the leads a lot to work (as well as play) with. Directed fairly well by David Mirkin, though this movie really belongs to the actresses and screenwriter. With Janeane Garofalo. Evanston, Ford City, Lake, Lincoln Village, Norridge, 600 N. Michigan, Webster Place. –Jonathan Rosenbaum
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo.
The subject’s nice — a clan of Irish con artists operating in the rural south — but the movie breaks down into separate pieces, some fresher than others, without much cumulative force. Directed by former cinematographer Jack Green (who’s shot eight Clint Eastwood movies as well as Twister) from a script by Jim McGlynn, the story centers on the adventures of a seasoned scam veteran (coproducer Bill Paxton) and his young protege (Mark Wahlberg), though a love interest eventually turns up in the form of a single mother (Julianna Margulies) who becomes the target of one of the duo’s schemes. James Gammon is around for additional grit, and there’s loads of country music on the sound track. (JR)