"Lost in the Desert"
What You Need To Know:
There are some big laughs and funny moments in AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS, but the story, acting, script, and direction are uneven. Parts of the story and some of the behavior of the characters lack credibility. The movie also contains two major, disgusting sexual jokes, as well as a scene of implied fornication and plenty of gratuitous foul language.
(Pa, Ro, B, LLL, V, S, A, D, M) Mild pagan worldview with romantic notions, plus some mild moral elements, including scenes where New Age self-help guru is mocked; 39 obscenities, 12 profanities, a few crude sexual jokes, & man says, “Kiss my undercarriage”; mild comic violence such as fight between two men vying for same woman; implied fornication, woman leaves husband to live with another man & jokes about masturbation, bestiality & the size of a man’s private parts; no nudity but woman in bra & scene spoofs nightclub scenes in CABARET where chorus girls dance in underwear; alcohol use; smoking; and, conceit, people take advantage of other people & subterfuge used in business practices, mostly depicted for comic purposes.
AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS takes the soft romantic attitude in the successful movies of Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan in recent years and plunks it down in the milieu of cynical, sexual Hollywood. This time around, the visit is not worth your while, despite the funny jokes that pepper the script.
Written by comedian Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan, AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS stars Julia Roberts as Kiki, the personal assistant to a cranky female star, Gwen Harrison, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. The star, Gwen Harrison, has left her husband, Eddie Thomas, for another man, even though the married couple has made nine successful movies together. Eddie still pines for Gwen, but Gwen is ready to deliver the divorce papers. Ironically, Kiki has always had a thing for Eddie. She also just happens to be Gwen’s put-upon sister.
The flaky director of Eddie and Gwen’s latest movie demands a press junket, even though he has not delivered the final movie to the studio. Studio boss Dave Kingman thinks the press won’t care that there’s no movie yet, if the studio’s publicity director, Lee Phillips, can convince the press during the junket that Gwen and Eddie might get back together. Lee, played by Billy Crystal, enlists the help of Kiki, Gwen’s sister. He schedules the press junket at an isolated, fancy resort in the desert.
It’s hard to see why the average moviegoer would care what happens to the careers of these people or the success of the movie they’ve made, but that’s the opening setup to this movie. Thus, AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS opens with the plot between the studio boss and Billy Crystal’s character, not with the story between the romantic leads. However, it’s the second story which takes center stage; the first story is merely the catalyst. This, and a couple of superfluous scenes, dilute the power and focus of the movie.
Making matters worse is that AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS gives viewers little or no reason why they should want Kiki and Eddie to hook up together once it reveals that Kiki loves Eddie. Eddie is still a nervous wreck because of his wife’s betrayal and is in no position to make a decision about any new relationships given that fact. So, why should Kiki be so upset when he does not immediately realize that she’s the one for him? Also, the filmmakers have de-glamorized Kiki’s character so much that Julia Roberts looks like she just got out of bed through most of the movie. In the story, one of the reasons why Eddie does not notice Kiki is because she used to weigh 60 pounds heavier. Apparently, Kiki lost the weight because she hopes Eddie can now be available for her instead of her grouchy sister. So, why doesn’t Kiki make an effort to look more glamorous now that she’s thinner? An even better question is, Why does Hollywood think all fat and chubby people don’t make an effort to look nice when they go out in public? Kiki is just not a well-developed character. Her only real desire seems to be to find a love partner.
Another big problem with this movie is that the acting is wildly uneven. Julia Roberts as Kiki and John Cusack as Eddie turn in more realistic performances, but Catherine Zeta-Jones as Gwen and Hank Azaria as her lover give unbelievable, over-the-top performances. Their performances damage the credibility of the romantic complications in the story, which comes to an improbable finish. The fault for this, of course, lies with director Joe Roth, who hasn’t directed a movie since 1990’s forgettable COUPE DE VILLE. Mr. Roth made some fine movies as an executive at the Disney Studios, such as the remarkable REMEMBER THE TITANS. Perhaps, he should return to that kind of position in the industry.
Finally, there are several moral and spiritual problems in AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS. First, the movie contains three crude sexual jokes. One of the jokes is about masturbation, another involves the size of a man’s private parts, and another one involves bestiality. One such joke is more than enough, but the jokes about masturbation and bestiality are truly disgusting. Second, there are some strong profanities that misuse the names of God. Lastly, a sexual interlude eventually occurs between Kiki and Eddie, and this is treated lightly. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® does not recommend this movie for children or teenagers, and adults should exercise their discernment.