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IN SHORT: Ed Burns makes a chick flick.
I guess the nice thing about having total control over your film project is that you have total control. Ed Burns, who has socked it to us with sparkling dialog and stories of the blue collar class in his last two flicks, does a full turnabout in his latest, No Looking Back, still set in a blue collar world, but focussed on the female perspective.
OK, kidlets, Cranky's gonna lay this out sweet and simple. Sometime early in your life you're going to fall into the hottest, most passionate affair you could possibly imagine. The ladies do the imagining. The guys screw their brains out and thank God for a couple of inches of muscle. Even post-liberation, most of the time when the fireworks go off, the ring goes on. If it doesn't you're left with the incredibly depressing prospect of looking (usually forever) for something to come close enough to make you settle down. The options are three; you can stay single; you can toss in the towel and settle for whatever's out there, or you can do like Cranky and get hit by a truck. I don't recommend that last option.
Life sucks and you move on; which is kind of the theme of No Looking Back, the kind of movie us guys suffer through so that we can take our dates to sit and suffer through anything by [fill in the name of an action star here].
Ed Burns has shown us, in his first pair of flicks, a great ability to create interesting characters and funny (and usually salty) dialog. This time out, when he shifts his focus, he loses that direction. There are very few interesting characters in No Looking Back, and those that are are secondary to the story.
No Looking Back is the story of one of those Happy Loving Couples that Joe Jackson sang about way too long ago. Claudia (Lauren Holly) and Michael (Jon Bon Jovi) are shacked up pending marriage, in the seaside community of Far Rockaway, New York, spitting distance from where Cranky grew up. Far Rockaway is lower blue collar, if there is such a thing, and is/was the place old people who couldn't afford to move south went to die. The houses need paint. The cars run on regular gas. If you don't get out you'll see the same faces every day of your life until you shuffle off.
Three years ago, Claudia was with Michael (Burns) who up and left in the middle of the night. Now Michael is back and wants Claudia to leave Death-Town with him. That, my friends, is all Ed wrote. This time out, we don't stumble across all the details about the characters that were buried inside Burns' dialog. This time out, the characters tell each other what's been going on and we (the audience) are stolid observers. Claudia is a waitress. Michael works part time at a garage. I have no idea what Michael does, but he can do double shifts which leaves his woman a tempting target.
There's a lot of background family stuff going on, involving Claudia's mom (Blythe Danner) and sister Kelly (Connie Britton), all of which is more interesting than the primary plot.
Sorry folks, Cranky knew what he was getting into before the lights went down. He usually brings a date to the chick flix but came up short. As does this review. But I do watch the audience and I do listen afterwards and I can report that even the quartet of demographically targeted women in front of me walked out giggling. Not good giggling, more like relief giggling.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to No Looking Back, he would have paid . . .
Pass it by.
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