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Nurse Betty (2000)
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Review Date: September 10, 2000
Director: Neil LaBute
Writer: John C. Richards, James Flamburg
Producers: Steve Golin and Gail Mutrux
Actors:
Renee Zellweger as Betty
Morgan Freeman as Charlie
Chris Rock as Wesley
Greg Kinnear as Dr. David Ravell
Plot:
A soap-opera addict goes delusional after witnessing a traumatic event take place before her very eyes and scoots off to Hollywood in order to find her ex-fiance, a character on her favorite TV show, whom she believes to be a real person. On her tail are the two bad guys responsible for causing the "traumatic event", now bent on finding the woman before she comes back to reality and remembers the crime which they committed.
Critique:
An original modern-day black comedy based in fantasy that delivers a great cast, fun undertones a la WIZARD OF OZ and a terrific performance from Renee Zellweger. Admittedly, this movie took some time to ingratiate itself to me. Frankly, I was a little letdown by its first half, and only began appreciating its many diverse characters, its wacky story and its humor after the midway point of the film. Now don't get me wrong, I was never bored or unhappy with the movie, but it just wasn't doing much for me until cute l'il nurse Betty got to L.A. and started living our her complete "fantasy" world. At that point, all bets were off and I was hooked. I especially enjoyed all of the scenes featuring Zellweger and Kinnear's characters playing off one another. These scenes featured some of the better double-entendres that I've heard in a while. And I just love those! One person talking about one thing, while the other person believes them to be talking about something entirely different. Pretty funny and extremely well-written and acted in this case. The rest of the film wasn't necessarily funny for me and definitely not laugh-out loud ha-ha! It was clever and certainly interesting enough as a modern-day fable, but the laughs didn't start a-coming 'till a little after the halfway mark. Mind you, others have deduced deeper issues beneath this film's surface.

Zellweger and Freeman's characters are apparent mirrors to one another in the sense that each of their respective personalities has imagined a delusional fantasy love for themselves, based on an ideal which they cannot attain in real life. A love, which in either case is oblivious to their respective existence. Now that may all be good and true, but I must admit to not catching any of that the first time around. Thinking about it now, it does all seem to have a deeper meaning, and I certainly wouldn't be opposed to watching this film again in order to fulfill that level of "depth" which I seemed to have missed. But let's stick to the stuff above the surface for now. The film is definitely one to catch just to see some of the better performances of the year. Aaron Eckhart is asshole-perfect as the husband, as is Kinnear as the arrogant actor. Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock work beautifully off one another, while Renee Zellweger delivers a new kind of performance for herself. I've generally seen her as the cute, romantic type in most films, but in this one she manages to play an excellent unhinged individual with an adorable smile and a sensitive nature. She has to ride a fine line with this part, never going over the top kooky and having us believe that she really _believes_ that what she's doing is "real", and she does so in perfect form. See it for her, see it for the original fantasy tale, see it for all of the other cool characters, see it for its deeper connections, or see it for the re-emergence of Crispin Glover as an actor (where has he been?). Either way, it's safe to say that this film definitely "ain't in Kansas any more!" The year of film mediocrity seems to have hit a little bump.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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