dir Bruce Paltrow • scr John Byrum
with Paul Giamatti, Andre Braugher, Gwyneth Paltrow, Huey Lewis, Scott Speedman, Maria Bello, Angie Dickinson, Kiersten Warren, Lochlyn Munro, Marian Seldes, Carol Alexander, Angie Phillips
Review by Rich Cline
It's one of those multi-character, multi-plot narratives with separate people in their own stories working their way to a joint finale. In pairs. We have Mr Mid-life Crisis (Giamatti) going awol and picking up a hitchhiking escaped convict (Braugher). There's singing hustler father reunited awkwardly with his long-lost Vegas showgirl daughter (Paltrow and Lewis). And a hapless, good-hearted cabbie (Speedman) somehow hooks up with an ambitious slut (Bello) willing to do anything for a few bucks. What they all have in common is karaoke, and they're all on their way to the national championships in Omaha.
As usual, there's the germ of a successful film in this idea, but this isn't it. Everything is substandard, from the weak humour and lame dialog to the appallingly bad plot and uneven characters no actor (not even a recent Oscar winner) can redeem. It's written like a comedy sketch but directed like a frantic road movie, and the result is painful to watch with only brief moments of entertainment ... just like bad karaoke. The storyline is far too seedy and violent for the comedy, romance or schmaltz to work. And it has to be said that only two actors emerge with anything left of their dignity (Speedman, who never looks like he knew he was in this film, and Braugher, who's far better than the film deserved). But everyone involved should hang their heads in shame.
[15--adult themes, language, violence] 18.Oct.00
US release 25.Sep.00; UK release 17.Nov.00
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