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IN SHORT: There was laughter in our theater, denoting another Kevin Costner disaster. [Rated PG-13 for thematic material and mild sensuality. 110 minutes]
We wish we could tell you what kind of movie Dragonfly is supposed to be. It may be a shocking horror movie. It may be a touching romantic lost love kind of movie. It may be the story of a man who is losing his mind. It may be all those things. We don't know. I don't really care. Having sat through this entire mess until we reached an ending which is so much like that of a chick flick perhaps some of those of the female gender may enjoy the film en toto, but not this boy.
OK... so ... a dead body grabs you by the sleeve and won't let go AND a flatlining kidlet's eyes pop wide open as he jolts back to life AND you're told again and again that your dead wife is trying to get a message to you . . .
all that stuff is in the commercial and/or trailer for Dragonfly and all that stuff promises a horror/thriller in a kind of sixth sense mode -- all that's missing is a kidlet saying "I see dead people". Here it's "she [being your dead wife] wants me to give you a message..." -- and all that stuff is brought to you by the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Eddie Murphy's The Nutty Professor. All that and a surprise ending we've been begged not to reveal. Instead, we'll tell you a story . . .
Back in the good old days of film school, we had a writing teacher who handed out scripts for us to read. Some of 'em, filled with lushly descriptive passages designed to set the mood and put in our minds, the images the screenwriter imagined for the screen. These great reads, carefully mentally masticated and then dissected as part of our coursework, were assigned because the films that were made from them resembled the inevitable result of mastication. The final product was garbage. We tell this story before beginning a review of Dragonfly, starring Kevin Costner, because this is a project that reeks in the same way that every great read/bad film seems to.
Dragonfly begins with two idealistic doctors, one of whom is still holding onto the kind of idealistic naïveté that humans tend to have back around age 20 or so. Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) is the grounded in reality based in the bloody triage of a Chicago hospital er room. His wife, the skinny as a stick and allegedly pregnant Dr. Emily Darrow (Susanna Thompson) flies off to help natives in Venezuela, leaving an entire ward filled with dying children behind. You fill in the blanks as to what kind of disaster hit Venezuela 'cuz the script doesn't. Neither should you worry too much about dear Emily for she, and a busload of natives, quickly meet their end when an avalanche of mud and rocks sweep 'em down the side of a mountain and into a raging river. Her body is never found.
Here begins one possible story: A man refuses to accept his wife's death and cannot or will not grieve. As he throws himself back into his work, his behavior becomes erratic. All of his colleagues and friends believe that he is losing his mind. The hospital administrator (Joe Morton) orders him to take some time off and get his head together. But one night, Joe hears Emily's voice calling to him, desperately . . . only the voice is coming from the body of a flatline kidlet, one of the multitude that Emily left behind.
Here begins a second possible story: that there are "steps" between life and death that only anesthesiologists and Roman Catholic nuns of short stature (Linda Hunt) can begin to understand. That doctors and lawyers who only believe "facts" that they can see might begin to believe that what they can't. While Joe and his doctor friends can theorize the medical "truths" about the near death experience and his lawyer neighbor (Kathy Bates) tries to keep Doctor Joe focused on reality, it's a losing cause. Kidlet patients in the hospital, children with cancer whose death is imminent, start having near death experiences and, upon their return, tell Joe that Emily wants him to join her "in the rainbow". Simply, can you convince a man who doesn't believe in any kind of afterlife whatsoever that there is something, um, over the rainbow?
Scenario number three: Maybe Emily isn't dead at all.
Writing as someone that has had the near death experience, at least it's nice to see that the writers of this script did their research and stick to the things that are consistent in our experiences. Of course, as Doctor Joe cracks up and relies on that nun to explain it all to him, Dragonfly degenerates into hogwash. Then it decides to become a chick flick, the circumstances of which we'll keep to ourselves.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Dragonfly, he would have paid . . .
We apologize for seeming to ramble this time out. Dragonfly makes about as much sense as we are, except for the rating which accurately reflects our feeling that this film is a total waste of all of our time.
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