Director Robert Downey's movie HUGO POOL attempts to create a whimsical story of out-of-step characters, who for a brief interlude find some semblance of serenity in their lives. Hugo, played by Alyssa Milano, is a pool cleaner. On some days, she cleans over 30 pools. One day, she fills a pool for a gangster, Chic, despite drought conditions in Los Angeles. Hugo enlists the help of her drunken father and gambling mother to ensure that her jobs get done. Along the way, her father befriends a leprechaun, and Hugo falls in love with wheelchair-bound Floyd, who is suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.
This movie attempts at being an almost lyrical story but fails dismally. The characters are too weird to gain the audience's sympathy. All are irritating, garish and stand out as aberrations. Robert Downey, Jr. plays a director with a terrible accent who kills one of his extras in a fit of temper and burns his house down for insurance, and Richard Lewis ineptly fills the poorly-written role of Chic Chicalini. Only Hugo and Floyd give some semblance of sentimentality. The film portrays pagan self-indulgences as the rule. Situations of sexual promiscuity are mentioned and strongly implied, and whimsy becomes corrupt. HUGO POOL goes down the drain.
(Pa, O, LL, V, SS, NN, A, D, M) Pagan self-indulgent worldview with some mysticism; 9 obscenities, 5 vulgarities & 2 profanities; implied murder; some implied sexual situations & sexual references, sexual promiscuity, father talks lewdly to young son, sexual groping, & old man looks lustfully at woman; upper female nudity; alcohol use & drunkenness; drug abuse; and, miscellaneous immorality including gambling, horse betting, fraud, & the inclusion of a leprechaun.
HUGO POOL is the name of a pool company, run by young, pretty and upbeat Hugo (Alyssa Milano). She cleans pools for a living, attending to dirty swimming pools of the rich and ridiculous in Los Angeles. Starting before the crack of dawn, she works hard sometimes cleaning 30 pools by the end of the day.
On one particular day, Hugo is racing against time, filling an empty pool with water for gangster Chic Chicalini (Richard Lewis) by 6:30 in the evening, just in time for a party he has planned. The fact that the city is experiencing draught and that the water for his pool is against the law hardly concerns Chic. Instead, he intimidates Hugo into ensuring that the job gets done by the end of the day.
So with this added deadline to what is already an overburdened day, Hugo rouses her drunken father, Henry (Malcolm McDowell), out of his alcoholic stupor and enlists him to help her find the water, while she finishes up cleaning the pools on her list. Henry, a little groggy but otherwise helpful, takes the water truck on the road with the help of a leprechaun (Sean Penn), who wears bright blue shoes that Henry covets.
Hugo also picks up her mom, Minerva (Cathy Moriarty), who is estranged from her Dad. She is addicted to betting on the horses and sleeps with her broker to settle her debts. One of Hugo’s clients is kind Floyd Gaylen (Patrick Dempsey), who is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, is confined to a wheelchair and speaks only through a computer. Through Hugo, Minerva picks up the name of a horse and is convinced that she has got a winner. Minerva invites Hugo to ride with them for the day, wheelchair and all. Along the way, Hugo and Floyd fall in love, and some sweetness enters into Floyd’s tragic life. Hugo, who is afraid of sex, tattoos and pierces her body to compensate for her otherwise sterile life. She finally experiences the sensations of falling in love. The film ends on a bittersweet note that while opportunities do resolve some matters, other problems remain.
The performances of Alyssa Milano and Patrick Dempsey, who manage to give the film its better moments, are sweet and sentimental without becoming corny, but everything else about the movie is garish and out of sync. The various characters, from babbling Henry who persists in talking about getting high, to the leprechaun, played by Sean Penn, who might as well have slept through the role, do not meld but are presented as contrived characters with no firm footing in the plot.
The film does not stop there. Hugo’s many diverse clients are ridiculous. They include: Robert Downey, Jr., who plays a director with a terrible accent who kills one of his extras in a fit of temper and burns his house down for insurance; and, Richard Lewis, who ineptly fills the poorly-written role of Chic Chicalini, who serves to offend rather than entertain.
Added to all this hodgepodge is the movie’s portray of pagan self-indulgence, including sexual promiscuity and corruption. Ultimately, HUGO POOL is not worth anyone’s time or money.
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