A sour tongue makes for a Sweet tooth

America’s Sweethearts

Sweethearts

Directed by Joe Roth

(John Cusack, Catherine Zeta

Jones, Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts)

Rated: PG13

 

Not everbody is funny all of the time. Some people are funny some of the time. John Cusack is funny all of the time.

The yet-to-get-old dark witticisms and wry satire that make Cusack’s name synonymous with comedy are what propel the star-laden America’s Sweethearts. Producer/co-writer Billy Crystal’s script typecasts both Cusack in his forementioned spot, and Crystal himself in his one-liner, “Here’s the punch line!” role. Fortunately, only the latter tends to get old.

Cusack stars as Eddie Thomas, the emotionally torn, heart-broken, peace-seeking better half to America’s favorite Hollywood ex-couple. The second half is Gwen Harrison, portrayed by a teeth-grittingly believable Catherine Zeta-Jones as a self-righteous bitch. Publicist Lee Phillips (Crystal), and Kiki Harrison (Julia Roberts), Gwen’s assistant and sister, have the untimely job of trying to make the couple appear back together in a promotional stunt for the ex-couple’s new film.

What ensues is a comedy of errors based on a Hollywood self-mockery so intently self-loathing, you feel as if the pity party forgot the violins. This self-ridicule deprives the film of confidence, a self-esteem issue so depressing that you don’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the film. Random snickers fill the cracks between the over dose, mind the pun, of psychiatric medication jokes (even Harrison’s Doberman is on Prozac) that attempt to justify the film’s first hour-and-twenty-minute-long depression.

One noteworthy non-medication gag occurs when Crystal tries to determine whether Eddie’s or Gwen’s limo is going to pull up first to the press junket. (Pronounced hon-kit by Gwen’s Hispanic lover, a scene-thieving Hank Azaria.) Cusack’s sour cynicism breathes, “Let her go second, that way she can see the knife in my back.” Aside from these and a piss-your-pants funny Cusack daydream during an attempt at reconciliation, the first 80 minutes are almost painful to watch.

When Kaczynski-inspired and Oscar-winning director Hal Weidmann (played by Hollywood’s creepiest) brings the “director’s cut” of their new film to the press junket, the last twenty minutes turn a complete one-eighty, unleashing a proverbial bull-in-a-china-shop of madness. Unending laughter barrels through the remaining twenty minutes, an uproar of hilarity that redeems the ho-hum beginnings, and makes listening to America’s Sweethearts whine worth the while after all.

-Michael Goller

 

America’s Sweethearts opens today in theatres nationwide.

 

Michael Goller invites comments or criticism at [email protected]