Film: The New Romantics of Hollywood

The Wedding Singer

Frank Coraci (12)

Dad Savage

Betsan Morris Evans (18)

Hurricane Streets

Morgan J Freeman (15)

Nowhere

Gregg Araki (18)

Red Corner

Jon Avnet (15)

The Replacement Killers Antoine Fuqua (18)

The suspicion that a growing number of Hollywood films are conceived with their soundtrack albums in mind is confirmed by , a romantic comedy set in 1985 for no other reason than as a pretext for some easy laughs at the expense of such dubious British exports as Kajagoogoo, the Thompson Twins and Musical Youth. Saturday Night Live comedian Adam Sandler plays Robbie, the singer whose flair for cheering up other people's weddings (his opening-credits version of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Around (Like a Record)" is a particular treat) doesn't extend to his own marital plans. Jilted at the altar by his rock-chick bride, Robbie is coaxed out of his depression when Julia, the new waitress at the reception hall where he works, enlists his expertise in arranging her own impending wedding. But since Julia's intended is an obnoxious bond dealer called Glenn, who loves Miami Vice and drives a DeLorean, we know it's not going to last. And since Julia is played by Drew Barrymore, the only member of the cast who hasn't been inflicted with a terrible Eighties wardrobe and hairstyle, we can be equally confident that she and Robbie will be walking down the aisle by the final fade.

There's not much more to it than that, really, but the end result is surprisingly winning. Sandler, whose previous vehicles Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore made Jim Carrey look sophisticated, has transformed himself from boisterous dummkopf into an unexpectedly engaging romantic lead - like a slightly cooler version of Ross from Friends. (And he's no mean bar mitzvah singer, either.) Also coming into her own is Drew Barrymore, who, after years of unwarranted celebrity, finally gets a leading role that makes the most of her puppyish charm. And the humour, for all its obviousness, has the odd flash of bizarre inspiration - such as the sight of indie idol Steve Buscemi singing Spandau Ballet.

There's a nice moment towards the end of the British thriller Dad Savage when Bob (Joe McFadden) is fleeing through the woods at night. In the past few hours he has tortured an old school friend, been fired at with a pump-action shotgun and made off with the life savings of a ruthless gangster. But suddenly he stops and calls over to his accomplice Vic (Marc Warren) in wonder; he's nearly trodden on a very rare type of grass snake. Setting a tough crime thriller in the English countryside is a bold move, and for the most part Dad Savage pulls it off. First-time director Betsan Morris Evans turns the flat expanses of Norfolk into a lawless no-man's- land where Bob, Vic and H (Kevin McKidd) make the fatal mistake of messing with the local crime boss, tulip-growing country-music fan Dad Savage (Patrick Stewart). Morris Evans also gets a clutch of vivid performances from her young cast: Warren comes on like a young, blond Malcolm McDowell, while McKidd, despite the fact that he spends most of the film unconscious, has a brooding presence which suggests that he may yet prove the most enduring of the bratpack thrown up by Trainspotting. Unfortunately, however, what should have been a nasty, brutish and short tale of betrayal is tricked out with a pointlessly baffling Usual Suspects-inspired structure, unfolding in a stream of deceptive flashbacks from various points of view - including, unless I lost the plot entirely, that of the unconscious McKidd.

Though it arrives garlanded in awards from the indie mecca of Sundance, Hurricane Streets has the same basic problem as Dad Savage: it succeeds in conjuring up an original milieu and populating it with credible characters, only to fudge what should have been the easy part, the story. At the heart of the film is a poignant performance from Brendan Sexton III, who first made an impression in a previous Sundance favourite, Welcome to the Dollhouse. Frantically pedalling the streets of New York on his chopper bike, to the sound of a mournful cover version of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive", he plays Marcus, a streetwise 15-year-old asthmatic who combines a lucrative career as a shoplifter with an almost parental concern for the welfare of the other members of his gang. But unfortunately, as much for the first-time writer/ director Morgan J Freeman as for his downtrodden characters, the familiar lure of drugs and guns proves too powerful.

"We all know deep down in our souls that our generation is going to witness the end of everything." So says Dark Smith (James Duval) at the end of a long day among the assorted young crazies - bulimics and born-again Christians, soap stars and sado-masochists - who populate Nowhere, writer/director Gregg Araki's hallucinatory vision of Los Angeles. It's hardly an original message, especially since Araki said pretty much the same in his last two films. Visually, however, Araki has made progress: shot in hyper-real, Day-glo colours, Nowhere looks a dream, an acid-fuelled collision of Derek Jarman and Jean-Luc Godard (the latter, in particular, would have relished the party scene in which a man is beaten to death with a can of Campbell's tomato soup).

Nowhere may be deliberately, almost aggressively meaningless, but at least its chaotic energy provides an antidote to the lumbering lethargy of the week's studio offerings. Richard Gere must have let his pro-Tibetan sympathies blind him to the shortcomings of Red Corner, a clunking conspiracy thriller about an American TV executive framed for murder in Peking. Its account of the brutal workings of China's legal system is apparently based on research, but that's no excuse for the cliched depiction of ruthless party cadres and some achingly repetitive courtroom scenes. The precious little imagination displayed by director Jon Avnet (Up Close and Personal) and writer Robert King is expended on coming up with reasons why Gere and his demure defence lawyer shouldn't ever be suspected of fancying each other.

The same anxiety about inter-racial romance cripples The Replacement Killers, the film designed as the launchpad for the American career of the Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-Fat. He's teamed here with Mira Sorvino in the improbable tale of a conscience-stricken Chinese hitman and the glamorous forger whose help he needs in order to escape the country. But director, Antoine Fuqua refrains from developing the slightest spark between them, even as they take on the mob's "replacement killers". More disappointing is the film's second-hand style: widely hyped as a pop-promo visionary, Fuqua turns out to be a poor man's Tony Scott, right down to the naff, orange-tinted skies.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
football
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us