Kin of Comedies

The two men meet, coolly--Jones already knows the story, but prefers to forget it. They part, but then Duvall gets mugged and, with nowhere else to go in the Windy City, must stay with his newfound relations. A slight, wary bond is formed.

If the film ended about midpoint, it would be a strong short, a moving but not mawkish depiction of a life challenge to two men's long-held bigotries, well-acted and solidly directed by Richard Pearce (Leap of Faith). But beginning with the moment when Jones tells Duvall "Tip your hat to Dixie for me," the contrivances by which screenwriters Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson keep the story going grow increasingly heavy and crudely carpentered.

The film keeps going wrong in small ways, but except for one nearly unwatchable scene in which a drunken Duvall accosts members of a celebrating black family in a bar--he talks to them about the injustice of hiring quotas!--it doesn't go horribly wrong. Whatever the faults of its structure, Thornton's and Epperson's dialogue is quite speakable, and Duvall, Jones, Beach and the spirited newcomer Hall perform it with heart and humor. Jones gives his character a slight stammer, a trait which, he claims, he had toovercome for real in his youth. A charming irony, considering that he's now THE voice.--M. V. Moorhead

Flirting With Disaster:
Directed by David O. Russell; with Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Mary Tyler Moore, Lily Tomlin, Alan Alda, George Segal, Richard Jenkins, Celia Weston and David Patrick Kelly.


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