13 February 2000 | bob.gladish
A good cast partially salvages a one-dimensional drama
This picture gets out of the gate well, but has a lot of difficult sustaining itself on a one-dimensional plot-line. In the first scenes, Jeff Daniels and Don Johnson establish a rapport as two best buddies who get involved in Halloween hijinks in their small Vermont town. Instead of continuing on a course which involves more of their shenanigins, it becomes obvious that this is a movie of family strife and man-woman relationships (as well as best buddy relationships). That is not so bad, but the movie is so unrelenting in it's pursuance of these themes, that it soon bogs down until you can no longer care what happens next in the Don Johnson-Susan Sarandon, and Jeff Daniels-Elizabeth Perkins relationships: you just wish they would get involved in something else. The same mood continues right to the end - I was certain that some catastrophe would create a climactic ending that would bring the two rocky relationships to a happy ending, but it wasn't to be. For this is one of those slice-of-life movies which tries to mirror everyday life, and in everyday life there are few catastrophies, only the unrelenting march of life. To the movie's credit though, this slice-of-life approach is not all bad, there is always something very comforting in a movie which successfully captures this mood. It, and other movies of it's ilk, make the statement: "This Is How It Is In America, No More And No Less!". Also to lt's credit is the strong cast. Susan Sarandon is, as usual, in fine form, and Don Johnson, as her somewhat unstable mate, captures the essence of the beleagured American husband. Jeff Daniels is good as the stabilizing influence to both of them, although this is about all he does. Elizabeth Perkins is not up to the calibre of the other three, though, and her character becomes the most tiresome of them all. Justin Henry, is a little bland as the teenage son tortured by the strife between his parents.