Monday, March 19, 2007
I'm afraid it's time to have a serious talk about our relationship. Your latest film, Premonition, got off to an OK start at the boxoffice, but you didn't have to be clairvoyant to foresee the reviews ("sloppy and absent-minded," raved The New York Times). I must confess to you that I skipped the free previews, and won't be a paying customer. I haven't even dropped it into my Netflix queue, where your last unstuck-in-time whackadoodle, The Lake House, currently languishes near the bottom of the pile.
Sandra, what happened to us?
We started off so well. I remember where it all began, in L.A., fall 1993, where, with a few hours to kill, I went to see Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes slug it out in Demolition Man. There you were, so perky, so delightful, reciting TV commercial jingles and stealing the film. And my heart. I don't swoon easily, but your note-perfect girl-next-door persona was captivating.
Better was to come. You hooked me in Speed. Driving that bus, and animating for a couple of hours the human woodcut known as Keanu Reeves--wow. I saw it three times, own the DVD, and can never tear myself away when it turns up on TV. Tina Turner told Rolling Stone she wanted to be you, behind the wheel. Tina Turner. Awesome. You were on a roll, Sandra.
Then, the inevitable turn to romantic comedies, challenging Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan, in 1995's While You Were Sleeping. Another big score, in a cute, innocuous movie. Not really my bag, Sandra, and I knew what was in store. Maybe you did, too. You now wore the mantle of America's Sweetheart--but you wore the crown uneasily, as if you knew you could better but couldn't bring yourself to rage against the popcorn machine. The wholesome-image thing was tough to overcome, and the bad guys who threatened in The Net and A Time to Kill couldn't beat it out of you. So you played along, in successful films that went in one eye and out the other--Hope Floats, Forces of Nature, etc. The very title, Miss Congeniality, summed up your predicament, and that was the biggest money-spinner of them all.
Once you hit 40, however, you decided, enough was enough. You put on the happy face one last time, with the male you, Hugh Grant, in 2002's Two Weeks Notice...you had no way of knowing, but the last scene of the film was shot two blocks from my old place, on First Avenue and 84th Street in Manhattan. I looked for you and Hugh, and saw only your lighting doubles. I was a little disappointed, but, let's face it, we had grown apart.
While relieved that you had unburdened yourself from movie romance--though your lengthy offscreen fling with Murder By Numbers co-star Ryan Gosling was a cradle-robbing surprise, you saucy minx!--your choice in material remained questionable. After a fast start you had underachieved, an A-level star in C-movies like In Love and War and Gun Shy. You have sought to reinvent yourself as a character star, tucking yourself away in an ensemble picture like Crash (so mean you were to your maid!) while taking the lead in pictures like Premonition--which, I fear, wipes out those gains. I'm avoiding the new film, despite the co-starring presence of the dastardly Julian McMahon, so as not to erase the pleasant memory of your limpid and lovely Harper Lee in last year's Infamous. It wasn't your fault that the other Capote picture stole your quiet thunder.
Sandra, I could go on. But it may be best for us to part, if only temporarily, on this more upbeat note. The Internet Movie Database shows no upcoming credits for you. Perhaps you are settling into wedded bliss with your twice-married TV biker husband "Jesse James," and, yes, you sense my concern as I write that (what is it with you and your Practical Magic co-star Nicole Kidman and your choice of men? I see neither practicality nor magic in these associations). This hasn't been easy for me to write. But I am cautiously optimistic for you. And for us.