One hundred and nine minutes of drama and not a single moment rings true. Seventeen-year-old Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski) is the kind of teenager only a mother (in this case, Carol Kane) could love. Willfully morose and obsessed with death, black-clad Jennifer has pierced most of her body parts, rings her eyes with a month's worth of eyeliner and lolls about her bedroom penning bad eulogies to herself. She carries around a pair of old opera glasses so she can peer at her surroundings through the wrong end (the all-too-unbearable world looks better that way), comes to the dinner table in black face with a pitted olive on each finger, then upsets her mother and stepfather (Michael McKean) by claiming to communicate with her dead grandmother. In other words, Jennifer is a Hollywood screenwriter's idea of a Goth girl, whose scowling exterior is really just a front for something sweet and icky. That something surfaces when Jennifer spots pudgy, 49-year-old haberdasher Randall (Albert Brooks) arranging the window display at the smart gentleman's clothing store he manages at the Century City Mall. For some inexplicable reason, Jennifer is immediately attracted to the man and asks him for a job. Randall balks at the facial jewelry but soon relents, and a creepy friendship develops. Randall teaches her to act like a human being while trying hard not to check out her butt; Jennifer buys him a Hawaiian shirt and shows him how to commune with the dead. Neither writer Jill Franklyn (the one-time Seinfeld scribe who gave the world the phrase "yada yada yada") nor actress-turned-director Christine Lahti sees much need for organic character development or believable motivation: Characters are the way they are because that's the way they're written, and they do the things they do because that's what the plot demands. Lahti fills the first half of the film with crude visual tricks that add nothing but confusion to an already inchoate mix, and do nothing to distract you from what a tiresome, self-obsessed creature Jennifer is. Even when she finds Randall near death in a hospital bed, she berates him for what this is doing to her. When she later turns to her poor mother and sobs, "I really need to talk to you about the things that matter to me," you can't help but shudder.
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- Released: 2001
- Review: One hundred and nine minutes of drama and not a single moment rings true. Seventeen-year-old Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski) is the kind of teenager only a mother (in this case, Carol Kane) could love. Willfully morose and obsessed with death, black-clad Jennif… (more)