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Review: 'Home Fries' needs spice

Web posted on:
Monday, November 30, 1998 11:30:19 AM EST

From Reviewer Paul Clinton

(CNN) -- At its core, "Home Fries" is a fractured love story between Drew Barrymore's character, Sally, and a young man named Dorian, played by her real-life boyfriend Luke Wilson.

They both live in the middle of "Nowhere USA," where she works at the local Burger-Matic and is dating a married man. Dorian's apparently between ambitions and girlfriends. They could both use some career counseling and a change in location, but I digress.

When the film begins they don't even know each other, but before long these two star-crossed lovers have to battle against Dorian's Machiavellian mother, played wickedly by "SCTV" alum Catherine O'Hara, and his loose-screw, murderous brother Angus, played by Jake Busey.

The trouble begins when Dorian and Angus are sent by their mother to frighten their cheating stepfather. They both just happen to be Army National Guardsmen trained to be Cobra helicopter pilots.

Paul's Pix: "Home Fries"
Windows Media: 28k or 56k
Real: 28k or 56k
Theatrical preview for "Home Fries"
Windows Media: 28k or 56k
Real: 28k or 56k

So naturally they "borrow" a chopper and chase stepdaddy off the road, then make him run for his life as he dodges bullets. Mission accomplished: He's scared -- scared to death. Literally. This leaves stepdad's pregnant girlfriend Sally holding the bag, so to speak.

Mom is not exactly broken up about her husband's untimely death, and she's still hot on the trail of whoever he cheated with. Angus is a willing participant in momma's quest for blood, but Dorian has serious reservations about becoming a serial killer.

Nevertheless, both boys are sent by their crazy mom to track down the girlfriend. There's just one little problem: Dorian falls in love with Sally, then finds out who she is and has to protect her from his bloodthirsty family.

Not quite dark or quirky enough

"Home Fries" is a quirky, dark comedy that isn't quite as dark or quite as quirky as it wants to be, or should be. Barrymore does a great job keeping the film's center intact. Everything revolves around her character and she handles it very well.

Jake Busey plays the type of whacked-out character his father Gary can do in his sleep, but Busey junior just doesn't have the chops yet.

Catherine O'Hara is a little too cartoony in her role as the mother and Luke Wilson, who looks like a little Tom Cruise in training, seems unsure of himself at times. He squints a lot and looks very confused. Shelly Duvall plays Barrymore's mother, but doesn't get to do too much more than take up some space in a couple of scenes.

"Home Fries" has serious producer credentials. The film is co-produced by filmmakers Barry Levinson ("Rain Man") and Lawrence Kasdan ("The Big Chill"). But the director is first-time feature filmmaker Dean Parisot, and while he does create a bleak, claustrophobic atmosphere, he hasn't managed to get the best performances from his actors.

Frankly, with all the films out there competing for your box office dollar, "Home Fries" can stay on the back burner. It's not a bad movie -- it's just not a movie that's worth eight bucks and parking.

"Home Fries" is rated PG-13 with a running time of 93 minutes.

Warner Bros., a Time Warner property, is a sister company to CNN Interactive.

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