HOME FRIES(director: Dean Parisot; screenwriter: Vince Gilligan; cinematographer: Jerzy Zielinsky; editor: Nicholas Smith; cast: Drew Barrymore (Sally), Catherine O’Hara (Mrs. Lever), Luke Wilson (Dorian), Jake Busey (Angus), Shelley Duvall (Mrs. Jackson), Chris Ellis (Henry Lever), Lanny Flaherty (Red); Runtime: 91; Warner Bros.; 1998)
“The home fries are too salty for my taste.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A screwball comedy that starts out funny but gets more ridiculous and less funny as the story picks up its pace. It never has an edge–the home fries are too salty for my taste. Drama and character development are thrown out the window, and contrivances rule the day.
Drew Barrymore is the not too swift red-headed Sally, the girl with a golden heart. She works in a small-town Texas hamburger fast-food place and is pregnant. But her main problem will be when she falls for the clean-cut stepson, Dorian (Luke), of the married man (Chris Ellis) who made her pregnant. Dorian and his maniacal brother Angus (Busey) are helicopter Air National Guard pilots who attempt to put a scare into their cheating stepfather for their mother’s (Catherine O’Hara) sake, but go too far in scaring him and cause him to have a fatal heart attack when they hover over his car in their helicopter and force him to flee on foot on a darkened country road.
The only problem with the perfect murder, is that the obedient sons are afraid that the voices they heard on their helicopter’s radio might be witnesses to the murder. They figure out that those voices came from the hamburger place, so Dorian gets a job there in order to see what anyone knows about the murder.
Sally and her family are caricatures of the Beverly Hillbillies living in a run-down shack, with a father (Flaherty) who is a loud-mouth drunkard. The film touches bases with the Oedipal problem, sibling favoritism, normalcy, dysfunctional families, and violence in rural areas. It aims to poke fun at fast-food workers and at small town life.
The film’s problems are manifold. The lovers, Dorian and Sally, have no sparks flying between them. The murder plot becomes a sick joke that goes on for too long, and the film ends with one-too-many critical helicopter scenes.
This is a film that might please the fast-food crowd and those who don’t worry about their cholesterol count. The film moved along at a fast pace, as there wasn’t much to think about; and, it just might be suitable as a date movie. I could see this as a drive-in flick, where you could watch for helicopters if you are not watching the film.
REVIEWED ON 9/17/99 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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