Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle


Stateside doesn't deserve much analysis, and certainly doesn't deserve your money.

Jonathan Tucker stars as Mark Deloach - a rich high school kid in 1980 who has done something horrible. One night, when just fooling around with his pals, Deloach, who is drinking and driving, has a car accident that severely injures two people. His father (Joe Mantegna) is a connected former Marine, so he pulls a few strings to keep his son out of jail by arranging a deal. Mark must serve in the Marine Corps to avoid jail. If he fails in the Corps, he's off to the big house. Sounds like a movie to me, but wait. There's more (which is one of this movie's problems).

Back on leave one weekend, Mark meets Dori (Rachael Leigh
Cook) - a famous actress and wannabe rock star who suffers from schizophrenia. The two fall in love, and give each other a reason to live (or at least check the mail), but they might not be helping each other.

Are Mark and Dori star-crossed lovers who complete each other, or do they help each other avoid dealing with their deeper problems?

Stateside is a mess that doesn't seem to be a comedy, doesn't seem to be a drama and doesn't seem to be a love story. Writer/direct Reverge Anselmo (yes, Reverge, it's not a misspelling, just a curse the boy's parents inflicted on him) offers up a mishmash of all three genres, but none of it is thrilling or interesting. He constantly and shockingly changes tone without warning, even when the effect doesn't add to our enjoyment or understanding of the film, and doesn't provide dialogue that makes the characters interesting. This leaves us with a romance that has no magic, and Tucker and Cook don't bring anything to help improve the situation.

The two leads don't have any chemistry, especially the flat, emotionless Tucker. Even for a Marine, he is remarkably stone faced with blank stares serving as his most prominent facial expression. Cook muddles through, but she can't even lip synch very well, which is devastating to her performance since she has to lip synch 3 or 4 songs. I guess she didn't pick up that skill when filming Josie and the Pussycats, but that was another film that didn't have anything to do with skill.

Val Kilmer is the actor who suffers the most from this mess. As Marks drill instructor who wants to challenge the kid into quitting, Kilmer seems to be playing everything for laughs. I guess Reverge didn't let him in on the big secret that this is more of a drama. Kilmer has the movie's few good scenes, and would have benefited from a movie that focused on Mark's experiences in the Marine and dropped the love story.

Stateside has some awesome music, so buy the CD and avoid the DVD.

½ Waffle (Out Of 4)

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