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Up Close & Personal

Starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford
   with Stockard Channing, and Joe Mantegna
Screenplay by Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne
Based on the book "Golden Girl: The Story of Jessica Savitch"by Alanna Nash
Directed by Jon Avnet

Once upon a time . . .

There was a poor girl who worked diligently until the day she met a prince. She falls in love . . .

Yeah yeah. Girl meets boy. Girl loses boy. Girl gets boy. Girl loses boy again, and so on into the third act. It's been done to death, but in the case of Up Close & Personal there is one major difference.

It's called STAR POWER. Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford let it out both barrels blasting and totally overwhelm what one of the Crankified rightfully called a "dumb story." Cranky thinks that were ANYBODY else to play the leading roles, UC&P would have been a major disaster.

But it's not.

It is great fun. Redford looks better, and yes hotter, on screen here than he has in a long while. Each crack of them pearly whites brought audible sighs from the audience. Ditto Cranky's reaction to Michelle Pfeiffer .

Up Close & Personal is "inspired" by the book bio of a long dead NBC anchor, and it has so little to do with the life of this person, with whom I was acquainted in my days as an NBC director, that I won't mention the name. If you know the name and expect to see drugs flying every-which-way, you won't. 'Nuff said.

Pfeiffer plays Sally Atwater of Reno, Nevada. She wants to be on Television. She wants to be a Star, and she is miserably equipped for the lowest of positions -- desk assistant, which is where she begins her upward climb. Warren Justice (Redford) is the News Director at a television station in Miami, who becomes her mentor, and takes special interest in her "career." Why this is, is a mystery, since he shows no sexual interest in the woman at all -- which is what everyone, including his ex-wife (Kate Nelligan), expects. So Tally (Redford has her name changed) begins as a weather girl and moves on to fluff reporter. All along the way Redford guides and teaches her, everything moving along smooth as silk until a clumsily-directed scene gives visual clues that Tally is a lot more than interested in her boss than as a boss.

OF COURSE the inevitable happens. OF COURSE Tally moves up and away to a different market -- and promptly falls apart without her sensei??. OF COURSE he comes after her.

But it doesn't matter because the screen chemistry between the two is so intense, it is almost blinding. And as the third act literally explodes on the screen, there wasn't an eye wandering in the theater. Up Close & Personal is, for all its dumbness, the first "really good" Movie-with-a-capital-M of the year. The money wasn't spent just on the above the leading stars. Kate Nelligan, Joe Mantegna, and especially Stockard Channing and Glenn Plummer, provide more than interesting supporting characters.

Enter the theater expecting nothing, pick your star, and have a real good time. Director Jon Avnet backloads the emotion so that you might walk out with red eyes. Cranky also compliments the swooping camerawork of DP Karl Walter Lindenlaub (Rob Roy and Stargate).

As an ex-Network person, everything about the various station ops "feels" right, and there is some hysterical inside joke dialog that writers Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, must be commended for. So I do.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Up Close & Personal, he would have paid . . .

$6.75

It's a great date movie, though perhaps not something you can see again and again. Star power can only do so much -- but I really did like this Movie.

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