Celebrity marriages. They never last -- do they?
Joe Roth's America's Sweethearts does not analyse what went wrong. Instead, it takes a lighthearted look at the hypocritical lives of Hollywood's leading lads and lassies.
Enter American sweethearts Eddie (John Cusack) and Gwen (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who've been separated for a year and a half.
It's pretentious Gwen who is the real culprit for their perfect marriage going sour. Thanks to her all-sex-no-substance affair with a Spanish-spouting dufus Hector (Hank Azaria).
Eddie, who has taken the separation badly, ends up moving in with a spiritual guru, who tries to instill in him the 'Art of Living'.
But, this is not what the film is about.
You see, the prints of a Gwen-Eddie starrer Time Over Time have been held by its whimsical director Hal Weidmann (Christopher Walken). Hal insists on previewing his film to the press first before showing it to its producer or the studio chief.
In steps publicity king Lee Philips (Billy Crystal). He has to get the estranged couple to bury the hatchet and distract the press.
To complicate matters, Cupid strikes Gwen's sister-cum-personal assistant Kiki (Julia Roberts) and Eddie.
The hodge-podge of relationships and plot concludes with the hilarious screening of Time Over Time.
America's Sweethearts works on a sluggish pace and that's exactly where it falters. Joe Roth, who earlier produced the romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping (Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman), takes on multiple plots and the result is distorted.
He doesn't bother to explore any of his characters fully. Kiki's transformation from a geek to a stunner is sudden; Gwen comes across only as the one-dimensional manipulative woman while poor Eddie is a yo-yoes priorities by the scene.
Inconsistency runs amuck and it shows.
In terms of performances, the leading ladies -- Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones -- give their half-baked characters credibility and conviction.
It's a shame that the film fails to exploit the talents of two of the most vivacious actresses.
John Cusack, who has let go of his chocolate boy image, manages to lend warmth to his lovelorn Eddie. Billy Crystal, who has written the script as well, is terrific as usual.
The film has its moments. Gwen being drilled mercilessly on Larry King Live; Eddie at the spritual asylum; and the climax will have you laughing till your side aches.
America's Sweethearts is good while it lasts, as long as you don't expect anything.