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America's Sweethearts...

America's Sweethearts

Movie Review: America's Sweethearts
Starring: Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Crystal
Written by: Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan
Directed by: Joe Roth

"America's Sweethearts" is actually a romantic comedy wrapped up in an ensemble piece. The ensemble piece works well; the romantic comedy, not so well. John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones co-star as Eddie and Gwen, the title sweethearts, a couple that makes movies together and lives a blissful married life offscreen.

Until their recent breakup, that is. The maniacal, demanding, and selfish Gwen begins a fling with a half-wit Spaniard named Hector (Hank Azaria), sending Eddie into a tailspin of despair and destruction. Publicist Lee (Billy Crystal) is in charge of rescuing Eddie from his spiritual mountaintop retreat and getting the couple temporarily back together again. America's real sweetheart, Julia Roberts, stars as Kiki, Gwen's long-suffering assistant. Like Monica on "Friends," Kiki used to be kinda tubby, and now she's thin as a rail, looking like... well... a movie star. She and Eddie have always been friends, and now, in the midst of the confusion, find that they might actually be falling in love.

Though Cusack and Roberts both have screen persona to burn, and they seem to click together, they  don't build up any reasonable chemistry because not enough time in the movie is devoted to them. Still, the film, written by Crystal and Peter Tolan ("Bedazzled"), is funny. Each character get at least one funny scene. Azaria has fun pronouncing the word "junket" in his outrageous Spanish accent; it comes out "hunket." Roberts cleans up doing her impersonation of Zeta-Jones calling for her help. Cusack has one brilliant moment when, bewildered and beaten, he looks into Zeta-Jones' eyes and says "you're the devil." And Zeta-Jones deadpans a line about her sister, "she was much more fun when she was fat." (Strangely enough, Crystal gives himself a straight part, something that he's not played much but suits him well.) "America's Sweethearts" aims at the reviewing press and

hits, showing them on a fantasy working weekend complete with hotel, drinks and gift bags. The movie also makes fun of us with the same delicate, diluted venom reserved for producers, actors, directors and publicists. Even Larry King (appearing as himself) acts like a dope. Ultimately, though, "America's Sweethearts" seems flat; the snappy characters never really burst through their two dimensions. But like an extended comedy sketch, the film does indeed deliver the laughs.


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