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A reminder: when reviewing movies that are adapted from other sources (books, plays, films, whatever), Cranky does not take the previous work into account. Fairy tales are exempt. Each movie stands totally on its own.
It's called a level playing field. IMHO, comparing the new Sabrina to the original classic (starring Audrey Hepburn ) would be just plain unfair. So, let's see what we've got.
Sabrina is at it's core the story of The Ugly Duckling. In this case, it is the chauffeur's daughter Sabrina (Julia Ormond), who lives in splendor in a mansion on the North Shore of Long Island. In the mansion are two brothers. Linus the elder (Harrison Ford) is an emotionless, wet blanket. He is so totally focused on business that he has no other life. Younger brother David (Greg Kinnear) is the stereotype, devil-may-care rich kid. He has not the slightest interest in anything other than women and is, therefore, the fun guy. And Sabrina has been in love with him since she was a little girl. He could care less.
The Duckling goes to Paris for a year and returns a Swan. The net effect of her return places both brothers against each other in the competition for her heart. A billion dollar deal rides on the outcome, just for fun. Cranky freely admits to having problems with romance movies as a particular genre. But Sabrina positions itself as a fairy tale, right down to the opening narration, "Once Upon A Time..." On screen we see the effect of hundreds of millions of dollars at hand floating around the mansions, and the parties, and the helicopters, and private planes, and houses on the Vineyard. It is a very impressive illusion. The draw is Harrison Ford. The payoff comes from the supporting cast, specifically Nancy Marchand and movie newbie Greg Kinnear.
Harrison Ford's Linus keeps his emotions in a safe-deposit box, to which he has lost the key. His courtship of, and transformation by, Sabrina is so subtle as to be almost nonexistent. Linus will, once maybe twice, crack a big smile. That's startling in and of itself. At another time, he lies about the donation of an old building to be used as a halfway house. When he is alone, guilty about the lie, he makes the donation. Very simple things to denote the change.
The problem is there is no spark between Ormond and Ford. With a story so dependant upon that relationship building and growing, under the rigid emotional exterior, it is a major problem. At least for me.
On the other hand there is Greg Kinnear, who makes the most startling of transformations. In real life, from TV talk show host to movie star. On screen, from playboy to master emotional manipulator and businessman. There cannot be a stronger contrast than the dull Linus and the ebullient David, and Kinnear fairly bursts through the screen. He and Ormond DO spark.
The final member of the supporting cast to mention is Nancy Marchand, a face you will recognize. A name you may associate with the television series Lou Grant. Marchand is the matriarch of the house.
She's Cranky. I liked that. A lot.
So I turned to my friend Clare, who I rely on in the ways of romance genre movies. She liked it. A lot. Buckle down and bite the bullet, gentlemen. Sabrina is an OK date movie.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Sabrina, he would have paid . . .
The pay-per-view cost. Sabrina is, for me, more of a snuggle up with your loved one in front of the TV on a stormy evening kind of movie.
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