The glitzy world of Hollywood, and the misadventures within it. That's the basic premise of this comedy - a look at how things are and what they're portrayed to be instead.
Gwen Harrison (Zeta-Jones) and Eddie Thomas (Cusack) are a hit husband-wife duo, who've starred in some of Hollywod's biggest hits. Unfortunately, Gwen ditches the romantic Eddie for Hector (Azaria), a Terminator-wannabe with a bad "lithp". In the eighteen months since their split-up, Gwen's films have bombed, while Eddie spends his time trying to find inner peace in a "healing centre". Now, they have to come together for the release of their last film together, a sci-fi epic called "Time Over Time". But the film is in the hands of its eccentric director and no-one knows what it's like. In comes Lee Phillips (Crystal), Eddie's publicity agent, who not only has to get the duo together, but con the press with nothing more than charm and a lot of free goodies. To this end, he enlists the help of Kiki (Roberts), who plays the part of Gwen's subservient sister.
The movie then shifts to a desert hotel, where all the escapades start. Lee tries his best to get as much mileage for the movie as possible, including setting up a fight between the boisterous Hector and Eddie. Kiki runs around taking orders from Gwen, who shows off her manipulative self brilliantly. In and around this, you have minor and major arguments, mishaps and what-have-you. As things go, Kiki's long-time crush on Eddie finally comes to fruition when he gets sick of Gwen and then it's time for the finale, which includes secret tapes and devastating declarations, which are as full of misadventure as can possibly be.
The movie has a good time poking fun at the dealings behind the making of a film, and of its stars. Crystal, who has written and produced this film, brings into use his vast experience in the business and a huge box of wise-cracks and jokes. The pace of the film is well set, moving quickly fom one episode to another without overlooking the major points. The only problem here is the rather hasty and slightly unconvincing development of the romance between Kiki and Eddie. The charcacters are a little stereotyped, but then that's Hollywood. The ending is to be expected, but it rolls across without being too much of a bore.
The acting is brilliant. Crystal, of course, revels in his role of a wise-cracking, smooth-talking manipulator and is as good as he ever was. Cusack deviates from his serious roles ("L.A. Confidential") and comes up with an effortless and superb performance as the hapless and sappy husband who loves his wife yet can't stand her. Zeta-Jones is also perfectly placed as the scheming and whining diva, who pouts and smiles unabashedly to get her way. The surprise package is obviously the casting of Julia Roberts as the secondary sister. She carries herself with grace and steals the scenes, even when she's just in the background. The chemistry between the cast is just right, and these four are aided by some good cameos from Azaria and others, including Seth Green ("Oz" from "Buffy") and Christopher Walken.
The movie is hilariously funny and manages to do so without resorting to slapstick and gross jokes (Farrelly brothers, take note!) The story is good, the pace is better and, as a whole, this package can't fil to deliver.This article was first published on 26 Oct 2001.