Movie Review

America's Sweethearts

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some crude and sexual humor

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Genre:
Romantic Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
July 20, 2001
Relevant Issues
John Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Julia Roberts in “America’s Sweethearts”

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack, Hank Azaria
Director: Joe Roth
Producer: Billy Crystal, Susan Arnold, Donna Roth
Distributor: Columbia Tristar

Can Billy Crystal reinvent the classic comedy “Singing In the Rain” and give us a truly heartwarming comedy? Can the 21st Century sweethearts, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and John Cusack give us an uplifting story of romance? Read on for answers…

Billy Crystal in “America’s Sweethearts”The other night my wife and I had a discussion in the local video store. Our lamenting question was, “Why can’t Hollywood make clean romantic comedies any more?” The last one that came to mind was 1993’s “Sleepless In Seattle.” I have been very disappointed with nearly every hailed romantic comedy of the year (Yeah, Right). It is no reason the cable channels “American Movie Classics” and “Turner Movie Classics” continue to grow in popularity.

The answer to question number one (about reinventing “Singing In the Rain”) is “no”. Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan have tried to write the story of “Cinderella” meets the National Inquirer. The truth is there is not much available for inquiring minds. I think that taking a stab at the press junket could be funny, but we already have 20/20 providing plenty of script material (with the exposure of phony critics and invented quotes). It isn’t a stretch to believe that there are people in the business that are more interested in gossip than the movie itself.

The answer to the second question (about a heartwarming comedy) is also “no”. This cast of stars have been marooned by the modern idea of funny. We witness the dread of another romantic tragedy. The film certainly will not be a star vehicle for any of the cast. The ironic thing is that we quickly forget their failures and move on (how do you spell N-o-t-t-i-n-g  H-i-l-l?).

The story centers around Eddie Thomas (John Cusack) and Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones). They are the object of affection for every movie fan. The public is obsessed with their romance on and off the screen. They are America’s Sweethearts. They are the soapy Luke and Laura of the current cinematic age. Their relationship of superficial bliss is interrupted when Gwen is enticed by the stereotypical Latin lover named Hector (Hank Azaria). Poor Eddie goes into a rage (attacking them with his motorcycle) and is sent to a rehab center run by a deceptive Indian guru (Alan Arkin). How are we going to get these sweethearts back together and promote their new film “Time Over Time”?

The go-to guy is press agent professional Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal). This is a role that worked better for Crystal in the film “My Giant.” Lee is joined in this mission by Gwen’s sister Kiki (Julia Roberts). Kiki begins as the 60 pound over-weight ugly duckling. She is Gwen’s personal assistant. They must help director Hal Weidmann (Christopher Walken) get these two together and make good on his $86 million dollar investment. The all-too-typical love triangle is sidetracked by Kiki (who is now slimmed down). So the wise-cracking Lee must get the public to believe the sweethearts are together and put their new movie back on track. You know, this could be the plot-vehicle for a very funny movie. Meanwhile, Eddie is discovering his true feelings for Kiki. You don’t have to stay tuned—you know how this one is going to end.

Our sweethearts are unfortunately more bitter than sweet. This dud seems to be obsessed with more of the same old humor from below the belt. The writers seem to have tried to give the idea of masturbation a supporting role. Not just once, but this theme reoccurs three times. Hollywood continues its path of perverting love. We get the F-word thrown in once along with other obscenities. This comedy of trying to restore a relationship for the almighty dollar fails in almost every level. Yes, there are some funny moments. I think a DVD with just the funny moments taken out of comedies over the past two decades would be a big seller. You know, spare us all the social garbage. The moments presented in this film are not worth the endorsement of this movie. In fact, I wonder if AFI (American Film Institute) did a list of the top 100 Romantic Comedies of all time, would it find many in the past 30 years? My suggestion is save your money and take your wife out for a candle lit dinner and reminisce over the funny moments in your lives. It will be a much better evening.


Viewer Comments
Not your typical Julia Roberts film. This is trashy humor reminding me of the previews from Something About Mary. Had I known it was so morally devoid and had such a poor story line I could have saved a few bucks.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Julie Sattler, age 36
Overall, a fairly disappointing movie considering the cast. There are lots of sexually oriented profanity, at least one “f-word” and one scene implies masturbation. The premise is entertaining but that’s as far as it goes. The main character is selfish and manipulative, not to mention adulterous! The plot is weak and not funny (unless you consider a dog sniffing and licking a man’s crotch humorous). Even Julia Roberts’ charm can’t save this one. If you must see it, wait for the rental!
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Jennifer Lawrence, age 27
I was disappointed with this movie. I thought there were a lot of sexual comments, and very unnecessary ones at that.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Bonnie Bair, age 45
I thought America’s Sweethearts was overall a good movie, as far as the script it was very well written, but there were a lot of unnecessary stuff in it. Definitely not appropriate for kids 13 and under. Even then I would only take my kids if they were mature enough. Julia Roberts did an exceptional job. I enjoyed her part very much. If you are a fan of Julia Roberts go and see it. Just beware you might be offended by the obscene gestures and numerous uses of the word s***. Overall, this movie was very well made. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Allie
America’s Sweethearts had the potential of being a nice story and good entertainment. It is a shame that Billy Crystal’s sense of “humor” took the film down a trashy path. We did not expect this from the trailers and none of the secular reviewers bothered to mention that their would be a scene where a character was believed to be masturbating and that another scene would focus on one character’s defense of the size of his penis. It just was not a pleasant movie going experience. We will not recommend it to anyone.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—John and Carol Brueggen, age 54
Thanks to one of my teachers in high school, I tend to take a closer look at movies now to see what lessons we can gleam from them. In “America’s Sweethearts”, I see a story not unlike a morality play. Yes, there is morally objectionable material in this movie. You do see a not-so-pretty side of Hollywood and the nature of fans. However, this is just one side of the dichotomy. I love it when Hollywood decides to show you the entire truth about itself, not just all the glamour and glitz. There are plenty of morally upstanding material and characters in this movie. You just have to watch the movie, and then when you walk out of the theatre, think about it. Just watching once, I could see from the charcters and their actions a lesson on how we should act, and how we shouldn’t act. The character portrayed by Julia Roberts, John Cusack, and (amazingly enough) Christopher Walken, embrace good ideals of honesty, loving a person for who their are, and commitment to a relationship (spoiler: Cusack, while his wife had an affair, didn’t, not even during their separation, even though he had the oppertunity to). On the other end of the moral spectrum, you have Catherine Zeta-Jones (going for loving only physicality), her boyfriend (can’t remember actor’s name, but same reasons, also he’s the guy CZJ cheated on Cusack’s character for), and Billy Crystal (who is the type of Hollywood press person who would exploit a story, not tell the entire truth about it, just for publicity). All around, the acting was good. Was surprised to see Stanley Tucci had a role, as I’m a fan of him in “The Imposters” and his role in the HBO movie “Conspiracy”. I’m also glad to see Hollywood being entirely honest about itself in this movie, and I think people can learn a lesson from watching the story. Kudos!!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—N.M. Dorsan, age 21
The plot was weak. The jokes were not funny. The attempts at sexual humor were offensive. Be forewarned that the characters played by Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones are sisters that have shared a bed with the same man… which is Zeta-Jones husband! There’s more vulgarity with Billy Crystal and a crotch licking dog and Cusack mistakenly caught on film masturbating. Sorry to be so graphic but please pass on this one. My husband and I really wish we had not seen this movie and we will not allow our teenage daughter to see it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1]
—Rose and Paul, age 45
I liked this movie somewhat and I found it funny, BUT it seems to glorify and condone adultery. In the beginning of the movie, John Cusack’s character uses vulgarity to insult his mother. There are a lot of s-words and uses of God’s name in vain. If a person should really want to see this movie, wait until it comes out on video. It’s not worth the $6 bucks I paid to see it. Parents, I’d advise that you view the movie to see if it’s appropriate for your child.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Shannon, age 20
My friend and I were very disappointed in America’s Sweethearts. The story line had potential and insight into how selfishness and unforgiveness can ruin a person. However, the crude jokes, sex scene before marriage (no nudity) and lighthearted treatment of dishonesty disgusted and disappointed us.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Sarah, age 23
I am very sorry I went to see this movie. For a movie with a PG rating (in Canada) I was surprised at all the adult content in the film. The comedy was mostly sex based and the acting was not the best. The plot was silly and very predictable.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive]
—Joy, age 17
Normally I don’t take my 11 year old to a PG-13 movie without seeing it or researching it first. This time I made an exception and wished I hadn’t. We came in a few minutes late and the first sentence I heard the expletives had already begun. There were plenty of expletives scattered throughout the movie, but the most offensive part of this movie wasn’t the language but the crude humor, the dog scene was embarassing and disgusting. I saw many people in the theatre covering their eyes and looking around in embarrassment as well as groaning with disgust. There were only a few jokes that were funny and the part of the movie where the description of the size of a man’s privates seemed to go on forever. The “romance” didn’t have any chemistry and made no sense, not to mention the adultery involved. I would highly discourage taking your child to this and letting anyone under 16 see this. The only good part of this movie was Julia Roberts, but obviously she can get better parts.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Ann, age 34
One thing I’ve learned when going to see romantic comedies is that you shouldn’t expect too much. Most of them are the same. And the guy and the girl always get together at the end. So, you go in and see how good the stuff in the middle is. In “America’s Sweethearts,” it’s pretty darn good. I’m a huge John Cusack fan. Billy Crystal and Julia Roberts are also very good, but I went for Cusack. And he’s extremely funny. One thing I didn’t like: Julia Roberts seemed underused in the movie. And I don’t mean that she didn’t do well, her character just didn’t have much to her. She got top billing but she was left many times just watching what was going on around her. Catherine Zeta Jones was the real lead actress of the film, and she did a fine job. I’d also like to mention the actor Hank Azaria, as the Spanish lover of CZJ, who stole every single scene he was in and was hilarious. He was great. I liked this movie for what it was. It sure ain’t Oscar material, but then again, what summer movie is?
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Jason Eaken, age 17
I expected more from this movie, after hearing all the hype and knowing the big-name stars in it. It was kind of “fluffy” with one dimensional characters. Julia Roberts is capable of so much more. She played a wimpy character that was likeable enough but just not much depth. There was adultery, and some sexually related comments and actions, but not overly vulgar and no nudity. Morals were typically “Hollywood” where it seems acceptable to “sleep around”. It was funny in parts, but very predictable. Recommendation: try renting the video and fast-forward through the peeping Tom” scene. Not recommended for pre-teens.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—LS, age 39
This film was a total waste of money and time… and a disappointment for Julia Roberts fans. The worst script of her career. The contrived script by Billy Crystal was slow moving and short on humor. There was constant profanity (especially the “s”) word and an overabundance of male “genitalia” humor. I won’t recommend this film to anyone.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Tommy Wilson, age 53
Based on the trailers that suggested a light romantic comedy, my wife and I took our teenagers (16 and 13) to see this movie on the second day of its release. We were horrified. Although there were moments of genuine humor, a talented cast was wasted in a film that consistently sought laughs by playing to the basest aspects of human nature. Two scenes, for example, invited the audience to laugh at bestiality. A running subplot involved the size of one of the character’s sex organs. And a fairly lengthy “joke” in the first half of the film concerned public masturbation. None of this was remotely necessary to the basic plotline; all of it was gratuitous. (Which is, along with a weak screenplay, why my moviemaking quality rating for the film is so low.) I am not a parent who tries to shield my teens from every whisper of the sad or immoral parts of the culture: in order to protect themselves, they must know what is out there. But I see no reason to drown them in filth, cast in the guise of humor. If you are trying to protect your children from becoming morally desensitized, do not allow them to see this film.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 2]
—Stephen, age 42
Basically this movie is a kind of moral play, and when you have a moral play, you need two types of characters: good ones to show good morals, and bad ones to show the lack of said good morals. People need to remember, this movie is set in a community called “Hollywood”. It’s not a good place, it’s not a bad place. Has both. So far most of the information given is just showing the bad parts of the movie: people who commit adultery because they “just need to get laid” (quoting Ms. Zeta-Jones here), and publicity agents who definitely do publicity, even when the truth wouldn’t make much news. However, this is balanced by the good people: Joh Cusack, mega-actor, one half or a separate couple. Though he has human shortcomings, he makes the attempt to get back together w/ his wife, and of course, he does have a romantic interest in Julia Roberts’ character *for who she is, not just her image*! Then there is Julia Roberts, who—let me tell you—acts like a saint through most of the movie, even though she shouldn’t be. Sisterly love and all that. Then, there’s Christopher Walken’s character. He’s the opposite of the publicist (Billy Crystal), in that he shows the behind-the-scenes Hollywood, AND tells the truth about it. I hate to give away all of the movie’s details, so I’ll stop. Let’s just say, it has its good points, some bad, but you have to judge for yourself. Me personally, I think the good points outweigh the bad.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—N.M. Dorsan, age 21
When I went to see this movie I was hoping it would be a nice clean movie. However, it is a movie that poke fun at guys private parts, guys doing dirty things to themselves. It also poke fun at adultery. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing this movie and was shocked to hear all of the language and sexual comments in this movie. I don’t know about you but I would not be comfortable with Jesus sitting beside me through this movie or even telling him about it.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Elizabeth Whorton, age 18
Movie Critics
…treats adultery lightly, [and] degrades itself with heavy sexual humor…
—ScreenIt!
…features stars who smile and lie to reporters, a publicist who believes that any publicity is good publicity, and journalists who are willing dupes of the system…
—Joshua Mooney, Entertainment News Wire
…jokes aren’t funny, its pace is choppy, and the whole affair comes off as a vanity project… for Billy Crystal…
—Christopher Null, FilmCritic.com