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Directed by Reverge Anselmo.
Written by Reverge Anselmo.
Starring Jonathan Tucker, Rachel Leigh Cook and Val Kilmer.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  5/22/04


It always amazes me that films featuring B-level stars somehow get by me; films that I never even hear about, and one day, whammo, there they are at the multiplex down the street.  "Stateside" is that way, and I think it flew under the radar for one major reason:

This movie blows.

Now, as bad as this movie is, it does have one saving grace.  First, the plot:  a high school kid named Mark (Jonathan Tucker) seems to be headed nowhere when he gets into a car accident while drinking and driving.  Faced with the possibility of some time in juvenile detention, Mark's rich-guy dad (Joe Mantegna) works a plea bargain with the courts to send his child to the Marine Corps instead of heading off to serve time...and, right before he leaves to serve his time, he meets a schizophrenic rock star named Dori Lawrence (Rachel Leigh Cook), falls in love, and begins a long-distance relationship with this crazy bitch that likes to mutilate herself.  And, it's a match made in heaven!

The film is almost as wacko as Dori, not because of any kind of strange Charlie Kaufman influence or "Jacob's Ladder"-style plotting, but because there is just a large collection of very random stars and almost all of them accomplish nothing for the film's 90-minute running time.  Hey, look, there's Carrie Fisher, and she spouts off lines about blowjobs!  Hey, look, there's Ed Begley Jr., and he totally fucks up his faux-Irish accent!  Hey, look, there's Penny Marshall...smoking a cigarette!  Mantegna looks as bad as his character is written, and the once-promising Cook does a so-so job with her krazy kharacter.  (Seriously, I just feel bad for where Cook's career has gone since "Josie and the Pussycats" bombed three years ago; she had that photo spread in FHM a few years ago, and everyone thought she would be a star, and then whammo!  Direct-to-video became her bread-and-butter.  So sad, so sad.)

Tucker is asked to do the most work here, but his transformation from don't-give-a-shit youth to Marine manhood just doesn't flow naturally; in one scene, he's clueless in class; fifteen screen minutes later, he's showing his maid how to correctly iron every part of his uniform.  In many ways, the romance in "Stateside" reminded me of how the romance in "Cold Mountain" gets setup; flyboy meets girl and sleeps with her the night before leaving, and they spend the rest of their time lusting after each other, although we audience members have a hard time connecting with why the twosome is attracted to each other in the first place.  At least in "Cold Mountain", the scenes between the lovers meeting were marginally interesting; in "Stateside", we really get nothing with the Dori character, except the continuous update that she is terminally insane.

Only one man saves "Stateside" from Hard Vice status:  Val Kilmer, starring in a brief role here at the drill sergeant that whips the young Mark into shape when he first arrives at camp.  Seeming to lap up parts of Clint Eastwood from "Heartbreak Ridge" and R. Lee Ermey from "Full Metal Jacket", Kilmer can be seen actively chewing the fat while spouting off his lines; I'm not sure how large the check was, but Kilmer at least makes his scenes worth watching.

Otherwise, "Stateside" joins the parade of bad movies that have tainted our nation in the first half of 2004.  Will the second half of the year bring me any movie hope?

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09