A Life Less Ordinary
Chris' rating: three lava lamps.
Robert (Ewan McGregor) is a janitor from Scotland. Celine (Cameron Diaz) is the daughter of a generic rich corporate tycoon. The two are destined to fall in love despite initially hating each other. So far the most basic elements of a romantic comedy are in place. Robert loses his job, goes nuts, and kidnaps Celine. Nothing original yet. Robert proves to be a lousy kidnapper, but Celine helps him with the stunt in the hopes of getting some of the ransom money for herself. Ho hum. I can imagine the screenwriter sitting in a corner like Winnie-the-Pooh, tapping himself on the head and saying, "Think, think, think," trying to come up with a big plot twist to make the movie different. Pooh bear pulls out of the hat ... two angels (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) sent from heaven to try and bring the couple together. On the surface a nice twist. In practice, there's a sense that all this has been done before. It's like seeing a flattened carcass of wombat roadkill: wombat roadkill might not be something you see every day, but once it's run over, it looks like plain-old roadkill.
So what makes this life so unintentionally ordinary? The angels. Even though the whole heaven plot is supposed to serve as an original quirk in a tired formula, the presence of heaven interfering somehow takes all the suspense out of the picture. There's never a sense that heaven could fail in its purpose. Who's going to win, big corporate tycoon or God? Hardly a fight, although the corporate tycoon does manage to bite off God's ear at one point in the match. It also hurts to see Holly Hunter trying so hard to make her character funny when it just isn't.
Note to Danny Boyle: when you're directing a movie with stars as beautiful as Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor, DO NOT end the movie with a claymation sequence that makes your beautiful stars look like demented elves.
As long as you don't expect another Trainspotting, this movie does the trick. Like Ethan Hawke's 1991 Mystery Date the romantic comedy plot is just a vehicle to get the movie from one quirky character/scene to the next, and that's what makes watching the movie worthwhile.
Review date: 1/14/99
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