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Living Out Loud

Starring Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito; Queen Latifah
Written and Directed by Richard LaGravenese
Website: www.lycos.com/living/

IN SHORT: A Date flick for 30somethings. . .

. . . 'cuz if you're dating at 20 and watching this flick you'll be thinking "that'll never happen to me" and if you're 30 you'll think "God I hope that doesn't happen to me" and God forbid you cross 40 like Cranky and you're still single, 'cuz you already know you're doomed. But I digress.

Cranky was warned a long time ago that Living Out Loud was going to be a major chick flick and thus be very painful to his cracked and mended cervical vertebrae. A hard, steady rain was falling as he strolled into the sneak preview -- only the changes in barometric pressure before and after a storm put me on the floor, so Rain is Good. With at least 4 pain and pill free hours ahead of me, I settled into my seat, anchored my Nikes to the golden stuff topping the floor and sharpened my vocabulary.

Despite the parallels to a big flick of last year (I'll get to that in a mo') I actually liked the flick.

Upper economic class Mrs. Judith Nelson is now Miss Judith Moore (Holly Hunter), 40ish, childless, a nurse for invalids and prone to suicidal and other violent and depressive fantasies. She lives in the posh upper east side of Manhattan. Blue collar Pat's (Danny DeVito) daughter died of cancer. His wife left him and he's deep in the hole from gambling debts. How then do this martini drinking yuppie divorcee and the beer drinking doorman/elevator operator hook up? Well, they do and they don't and that's the crux of Living Out Loud, a gentle romantic comedy that's unevenly written by director Richard Gravenese.

The set up of the film is that we get to see Judith's fantasies play out, before it's revealed that they are fantasies. Then, one chance encounter in the back of a jazz club, not a fantasy, drops this entire premise out the window as Judith believes she may have met the man to replace the cheating ex. She winds up all dressed up with no place to go. Simply, money is not a substitute for friends or kids or the career she wanted. There's hope at the bottom of a glass while listening to her favorite jazz singer, Liz Bailey (Queen Latifah) at a downtown club.

Pat, on the other hand, has a thing for cards. His wife and daughter gone, he sleeps on his brother's couch and dreams of becoming an importer. The mob wants to use him to work their way into the brother's profitable bar. He doesn't want to work the place.

So Judith pops some ecstasy and heads out to an after hours club, to meet new friend Liz. But she mistimes her intake and everything kicks in while in Pat's elevator . . .

It's not what you think, but it's funny as hell. Which is also the case at the after hours club, but for other reasons I'll not get into here.

Yep, the parallels to As Good As It Gets are there, only the economics and sex have been reversed. There's no bigot here, no prominent gays in the supporting cast so the comedy, with more than its share of New York in-jokes, keeps the thing bobbing just above the surface of the incredibly depressing lives that make do for the first two thirds of the film. Then there's a pause in the action. Several months pass. Cranky thought "here comes the chick flick stuff," but the resolution, such as it is, resolves very little of the story.

Which is kind of like life.

Here's the interesting thing about the Crankified. The dating couples, younger than I, all liked the flick in general. There was at least one rabid film student drawing parallels to As Good As It Gets, his date was probably dreading the trip to the local Starbucks for refueling his fervor. The 40ish single women, most paired with single femme friends, detested the Holly Hunter character (too much like their lives?) but everybody loved Danny DeVito.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Living Out Loud, he would have paid . . .

$5.00

Date flick, depending on your decade. The most wonderful points in the flick, for this ex-music biz guy, were the jazz standards delivered by Queen Latifah. Y'all know how much I hate rap. Damn, the lady can sing!


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