Selection for the weekend of May 21 - 23, 1999

Little City

Little City is an example of a movie trying too hard to be hip. The movie details the romantic entanglements and resulting disasters of six people in San Francisco. Adam (Josh Charles) is dating Nina (Anabella Sciorra) who is fooling around with Kevin (Jon Bon Jovi) who works with Rebecca (Penelope Ann Miller) who is attracted to Adam who still holds a torch for former girl friend Kate (JoAnna Going) who left him for Ann (JoBeth Williams) who is trying to woo Rebecca. Confused? That's the problem with this movie. There are too many characters thrown together with little or no plot. Because there are so many characters, each scene is drastically cut to 2 or 3 minutes that don't give the actors enough screen time to fully develop their characters. This is unfortunate because the movie is blessed with a fantastic, talented cast.

One of the faes you'll quickly recognize is Josh Charles. You may remember him from ABC's Sportsnight, or the movies Threesome (if you remember him from Threesome, I feel very sorry that you actually watched and remembered that movie) or Dead Poet's Society. He does a great job playing cab driver/artist Adam. He deftly portrays the anger his character feels when he discovers his girlfriend Nina is fooling around with his best friend Kevin. Then, he does an even better job when romancing Rebecca. Miller and Charles are the only two actors among the many couplings who have any chemistry at all. I would have enjoyed the movie much better if writer and director Roberto Benabib focused on those two characters and disposed of some of the lesser roles.

Another actor who does a solid job, but is underused, is Jon Bon Jovi. After a strong turn in the movie Moonlight and Valentino, Bon Jovi again shows that he can act. He plays recovering alcoholic Kevin with a refreshing sublty. Early on, the audience gets the impression that he will be the central character, but he disappears in the middle as Charles takes center stage. Towards the end of the movie, it finds a plot and he re-emerges when Nina discovers she is pregnant, but does not know if Kevin or Adam is the father.

JoBeth Williams and Anabella Sciorra just don't belong in this movie. Williams seems stiff and uncomfortable as lesbian art teacher Ann. Sciorra is a great actress, but just seems out of step with the rest of the cast. I don't feel any chemistry between her and either of her romantic interests, Charles and Bon Jovi.

The movie is not without merit. A good love triangle develops between Miller, Charles and Going. Frankly, an entire movie could have been written around their storyline where Going leaves Charles, but wants him back after he has met Miller. It is one of the few plot points in the entire movie and shines because Miller and Charles have such great chemistry.

Benabib also does a good job providing some of the characters with a confessional outlet that allows us to learn about them. Scirorra actually goes to a confessional. Bon Jovi has alcoholic anonymous meetings. Charles converses with his taxi dispatcher. Unfortunately, these devices get bogged down by psychobabble. Each character tries to explain his or her feelings and actions through childhood events. This is very popular in today's culture, but comes off as a lot of hooey in the movie.

The movie was unceremoniously released in September of 1997 and only recently came to video. I can only reason that Charles' recent success with Sportsnight has prompted Miramax to release it. Benabib has some potential, but has to simplify his future movies. Too much ambition ruined what could have been a very entertaining movie.

Little City: C-

Writer and Director: Roberto Benabib


Jon Bon Jovi ……………………….. Kevin

Josh Charles ……………………….. Adam

Penelope Ann-Miller ……………….. Rebecca

Annabella Sciora …………………… Nina

Joanna Going ………………………. Kate

JoBeth Williams…………………….. Ann


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