Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

Head over Heels (2001) Zero *

Directed by Mark S. Waters. Written by a half-dozen males. Executive produced by four or five. Photography, Mark Plummer. Editing, Cara Silverman, Production design, Pery Andelin Blake. Music, Steve Pararo, Cast: Monica Pierce (Amanda), Freddie Prinze (Jim), Sarah O'Hare, Shalom Harlow, Tomiko Frazer , Ivana Milicevic (the four models), et al. About 100 minutes. PG-13.

April may be the cruelest month, but from January on the cruelty of bad movies dominates the screen. Summertime is overwhelmingly for schoolchildren of all ages, from 10 to 50 -- with inane action, pallid romances, and flat comedies. The "good" season, from fall through December, shows the best of a bad lot plus the better stuff of potential Oscar candidates. Year-round small salvations may come from some foreign movies as well as from American rookie (or not-too-commercial) filmmakers.

The non-story of Head Over Heels comes from about six writers whose right hands did not know what the left ones were doing. If those fellows ever got together it must have been by e-mail only.

In this flick, Amanda is a talented paintings restorer in New York's Metropolitan Museum. She's devoted to her work, but her boyfriends are not devoted to her. Catching the latest one in bed with a new girl, she moves to the upscale apartment shared with four super-(almost) models. The rent is a dirt-cheap $500, but then her room turns out to be a closet. However, there's the adjoining huge, luxurious space with shelves and amenities for clothes, shoes, hats, perfumes and other tools of the trade.

So far so good. But past the opening sequences the film plunges as if attempting suicide. In that building Amanda meets tenant Jim as he takes for a walk a huge Great Dane. (It belongs to someone immobilized in bed.) An elevator door opens, out come Jim and Hamlet (the hound) who breaks away and throws himself amorously on the girl, if you get my drift. The gag, linguistically and physically, is very broad. Perhaps one of the writers was thinking that Great Danes go for great dames.

Jim is in the fashion trade but nothing is specified about this --or anything else-- in this vaguer and vaguer picture. His apartment faces the five women's, its windows are never curtained or draped. A veritable fishbow for the ladies' eyes. Amanda, egged on by her four matchmaking housemates, quickly falls for Jim. He who responds, but so awkwardly, lamely, unclearly that the movie keeps losing its interest exponentially.

All that is supposed to be funny and humorous. It is not. It's not even cute. The writers sleepwalk through the non-plot. Unable to invent anything, they opt for a bad clone of Hitchcock's "Rear Window." As the he five Peeping Tomasinas (Amanda & Co.) spy on Jim, they see something vague which makes them think that Jim has murdered a woman. The girls now sleuth in a series of stupid, disconnected scenes and events. I'll stop here.

Of course you've guessed already that the girls are wrong, that Amanda and Jim are fated to kiss -- and tell. In his telling there's a major twist which is unbelievable and terribly handled.

What holds a smidgen of interest in the caricature (or is it a faithful rendition?) of the four models. They are airheads, uncultured, even idiotic. Their life revolves around fashion, sex with the improper stranger, ornaments, plastic surgery, money.and such. It's La Dolce Vita, Gotham-style. Their language is salty but not colorful, their vocabulary, basic. The gags and jokes are repetitiously recycled. They range from inane to tired, from feeble-inded to scatological.

When the girls are all hiding together in a lavatory 's cubicle (don't ask) to the tune of disgusting body noises the toilet erupts like a volcano and covers the ladies from head to toe with an accumulation of thick, stinking, brown... let's call it lava.

You get the clear feeling that, at five-minute intervals the flickmakers are wondering "where do we go next?"

Amanda (Monica Pierce) is a pallid presence, though occasionally a pleasant one. The housemates are characterless yet irritating. In real life, sane persons of any sexual preference would put them in an address-book under the rubric "Avoid at any cost."

Jim (Freddie Prinze) is so bland that it ought to be forbidden by law.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel