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Hearts in Atlantis

Starring Anthony Hopkins
Screenplay by William Goldman
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Directed by Scott Hicks

Before we begin, we'd like to point out Paul Fischer's contribution of CrankyCritic® StarTalk with star Anthony Hopkins.

IN SHORT: An A-name in an arthouse flick. [Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements. minutes]

A mysterious stranger. Some uncanny form of potentially psychic power. A boy on the verge of manhood who stumbles across all of this, with unforeseen results. Hearts in Atlantis is a pair of Stephen King stories scrunched down from an anthology which has all the makings of something wonderful and though it is pleasant enough to sit through, there is no "there" there. We've already seen it in the ad campaigns. A man teaches a boy how to use a mysterious power. Yes, there's a little of that. A very little. It isn't all that important to what occurs in the piece. As of now (this written a week before release) we've started seeing ads quoting reviews screaming "four stars". Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

By the time you hit middle age and your friends start dying, it doesn't take much to make those long unused brain stems start firing off long forgotten memories. For photographer Bob Garfield (David Morse) it is an old, beat-up baseball glove that starts him down this road. The glove was property of a Major John Sullivan, hero to this country and boyhood friend called "Sully," (Will Rothhaar) the second part of a thick as thieves trio which included Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and the very lovely Carol Gerber (Mika Boorem).

Bobby lives with his mom, Liz (Hope Davis). The pair have little money. Bobby's dad died six years ago, in 1954, leaving no insurance and nothing but a pile of bills and a big gambling debt. Liz never fails to remind Bobby of these facts, every time she sports a new dress or outfit (and those outfits never fail to catch the eye of her fat pig of a boss). The upper floor of their house is let to transients, which is where Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) enters our story, on the eleventh anniversary of Bobby's birth. Bobby was hoping for a 26" Schwinn Black Phantom bike. He got an "adult" library card, that's how cheap and self-centered mom is. Noticing all this, the kindly Mr. B. gives Bobby a job reading the daily paper out loud, as his eyes are "failing". Mentioned once, this bit is never heard of again which is why we chose the adjective "kindly".

Ah, another buddy-buddy story, set in those rose colored glasses days of childhood. The days when your first love, and your first kiss, were something you remembered for the rest of your life. It is also a time in which mysterious strangers, called "the low men" by Mr. Brautigan, haunt the alleys and leave coded notes to each other on what would otherwise seem to be innocuous "lost dog" notices on the town's telephone poles. Brautigan is on the run from these hunters and Bobby is told to keep an eye open for the telltale signs of their presence -- flashy cars and men in hats traveling in packs.

We don't know who they are. We can only guess why they want Brautigan but that paranoia is not exploited in the script, which plays more like a coming of age tale more than anything else. You know: Bobby uncovers secrets about his dad. Bobby gets his first kiss. Bobby plays with a supernatural power.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Hearts in Atlantis, he would have paid . . .


pay per view level. It's an average dateflick for us grownup types though, given our personal preference for Stephen King's work, we'd spend the cash to search out the book.

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