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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

    £19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

    Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor