Everyones Too Stupid

Ghost World and Americas Sweethearts

Billy Crystal, who plays the publicist masterminding a press junket that's meant to launch the new Gwen and Eddie movie, wrote the screenplay with Peter Tolan. The script is studded with bits of amusing shtick, but as with those long Academy Awards nights, there's far too much dead time in between the jokes. (The best stuff is a tantalizing glimpse of Zeta-Jones tap-dancing alongside Christopher Walken—it's the only moment in the film that doesn't feel canned.) Devoid of an authorial voice or a semblance of individual style, America's Sweethearts is a run-of-the-mill compilation of throwaway laugh lines, strained caricature, movie-star allure and perfectly fine craft, and none of it would be worth bothering about if the movie wasn't also smug about its own mediocrity. But there's the rub. The film isn't just banal, it's aggressively, arrogantly banal. It's awash in a miasma of Philistinism, which is why it's entirely predictable that the character of an eccentric director (Walken) would inspire Crystal and Tolan to take potshots at Godard and Kubrick. Still, you'd think that Roth —who's supposed to be the smart one, the guy who gets it—would have had better sense, especially since his film's under-30 demographic probably doesn't know who these geezers are. Then again, maybe Roth actually believes that all these actors signed up to work for him because they saw through his power right to his irrepressible, thirsting talent.

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