[MOVIE REVIEW]A really stupid movie or something like it

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[MOVIE REVIEW]A really stupid movie or something like it

Hollywood has a certain kind of idiot film, the commercial, empty-headed dog that movie reviewers live for. After all, it's fun to trash a movie, to dish out insults with the elan of a shopaholic with a new gold card.

"Life or Something Like It," the new Angelina Jolie vehicle (it's not a story, it's a mode of transportation for a Hollywood star), should have been such a film. The story is horribly cliched and trite. The characters are drawn more broadly than a Monet waterlilly, and are about as fuzzy. It calls out "Here am I. Make fun of me."

And Ms. Jolie, with her heavily-storied exploits -- marriage and divorce from Billy Bob Thornton, high-profile pleas from her father Jon Voigt to get help, et cetera -- seems just about perfect for such a word-processor thrashing.

All of which is a long-winded way of avoiding getting to the point -- I liked this film. Not a lot. And I'm certainly not saying this is a good motion picture. But I enjoyed it.

Jolie stars as Lanie Kerigan, a Seattle-based television reporter with a dye-blonde bouffant, closets of designer clothes, a network job offer, a professional baseball-playing fiance -- in short, a "perfect" life.

But one day she goes to interview a psychic homeless man, Prophet Jack. He tells her that the Seahawks will win that night's football game, it will hail the next morning and that, oh yeah, she's going to die in a week. The Seahawks win (maybe this is science fiction rather than a romantic comedy), it hails and Lanie is convinced she is going to die.

Will Lanie become a better person from her ordeal? Will she find peace with her estranged family? Will she ditch her fianc?for Pete (Edward Burns), the cameraman she continually spars with? Come on, if you can't figure what will happen next, you're not even trying.

This is also one of the most unrealistic films about television news. You can trace the downward arc, starting with "Network," then "Headline News," then really slipping with "Up Close and Personal" and, now, this picture. When Lanie arrives at an interview drunk and leads some demonstrators singing a round of "Satisfaction," she is lauded, not fired.

In fact, "Life" is so unrealistic, I stopped worrying about it. It's not trying either. The whole film just barrels ahead, idiocies, cliches and all.

The director Stephen Herek has a bizarre resume, with previous films ranging from "Mr. Holland's Opus" to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." Most of "Life" is strictly by the book, but as it goes on, Mr. Herek starts bringing out the directorial tricks, playing with the cameras and editing for little discernible purpose. But for the most part, his work is passable.

Am I a dolt for liking this movie? It certainly hasn't gotten a lot of love from other reviewers. I'm not particularly fond of myself for liking it. Stupid journalistic integrity.

by Mark Russell

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