America's Sweethearts (2001)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Jul 20, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - Singapore, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Josh Ralske

America's Sweethearts purports to give viewers an inside look at the making and selling of a Hollywood blockbuster. The director, Joe Roth, was once a studio head at Fox, and the script was written by Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan (who earned his stripes writing for the acerbically funny behind-the-scenes TV series The Larry Sanders Show). The creators should be very familiar with the milieu they're writing about. Unfortunately, the film offers little more than a silly caricature of the studio publicity machine. The masturbation and bestiality jokes may be a cut above those found in such films as Rob Schneider's The Animal, but more should be expected from such an assemblage of talent. Hank Azaria plays a Spanish character, Hector, the brunt of many of the film's crude jokes. While the cultural insensitivity of the characterization is questionable, there can be little debate about Azaria's embarrassingly over-the-top performance. But the script is the major problem here. The cast isn't given much to work with. The way Kiki's weight loss is handled is typical of the sloppy writing; while offering viewers an opportunity to see Julia Roberts in a fat suit (in flashback), it is never dealt with as a plot element. The suggestion is that Eddie (John Cusack) is more attracted to Kiki after she loses the weight, but the screenwriters don't explore it. Roberts is a likable onscreen presence, as she's demonstrated time and again. Perhaps, despite Erin Brockovich, we've no reason to expect any more from her. The same can't be said of Cusack, an actor who projects tremendous integrity and who has always seemed to choose his roles with care. Fans of the actor may well feel betrayed by his participation in this lightweight and disappointing film.