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"A LIFE LESS ORDINARY"
(1997) (Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Heavy Moderate Mild Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy None Minor None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Mild Minor Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A down and out janitor and a spoiled rotten heiress carry out her faked kidnaping while two matchmaking angels try to get them romantically attached.
PLOT:
A new directive has been sent down through Heaven. Archangel Gabriel (DAN HEDAYA) informs his two matchmaking angels, O'Reilly (HOLLY HUNTER) and Jackson (DELROY LINDO) that there's a new incentive scheme in place to succeed: Unite a man and woman or don't come back from Earth. Their targets are an unlikely match. Celine (CAMERON DIAZ) is a disillusioned, rich young woman, while Robert (EWAN McGREGOR), a down on his luck janitor, has just been replaced at work by a robot and dumped by his girlfriend. After the angels get Robert evicted, their plan begins as he goes to see his former "big" boss, Naville (IAN HOLM) who just so happens to be Celine's rich, industrious father. Robert throws a fit and scuffles with some guards, while Celine, seeing that Robert's rather harmless, gets him to kidnap her so that she can get away from her father. Robert knows nothing about kidnaping so, she being an experienced hostage, shows him the ropes. Posing as bounty hunters, O'Reilly and Jackson persuade Naville to hire them to find his daughter and her kidnaper, and the two set out to make sure Robert and Celine fall in love. The two potential lovers think the angels are out to kill them, however, and try to escape. As the angels see their plan backfiring, they do what they must to make sure the two get together.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Preteens probably won't, but teens who are fans of McGregor or Diaz just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • EWAN McGREGOR plays a down and out janitor who unwittingly "kidnaps" Celine, accidentally shoots her father in the leg, drinks some, and commits other crimes.
  • CAMERON DIAZ plays a spoiled rich heiress who hates her father, helps with her own kidnaping, robs a bank and also drinks some.
  • HOLLY HUNTER and DELROY LINDO play two untraditional angels who try to match up Robert and Celine, but carry guns, use violence, and Hunter chews tobacco.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    Attempting to rekindle the nearly forgotten genre of the romantic screwball comedy, the film makers behind this effort seem an unlikely team to headline such an undertaking. Director Danny Boyle, writer John Hodge, and actor Ewan McGregor were responsible for the small, but critically acclaimed films "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting" -- neither of which remotely falls into this light, airy genre. That shouldn't prevent them from trying, however, and they certainly give it a shot. We just hope it wasn't their best shot. Instead of creating a cohesive film, they're created little vignettes, some of which are funny and/or indeed truly screwball. A sequence where McGregor, mistaken for a huge rock star, must sing along with a karoke tune is a prime example. Starting as an awkward situation and quickly moving into a fun diversion and then into a full-blown musical number, the scene is perfect in its overblown lunacy. Similarly funny, but not quite as inspired, is a sequence where Diaz, a seasoned hostage, teaches McGregor the ropes of being a good kidnaper that includes a hilarious ransom-demanding phone call.

    As funny as those moments are, however, they alone can't carry the movie without a connecting plot. Boyle and Hodge, though, are seemingly happy just providing a bare bones version filled with holes, logic problems and general storytelling difficulties. They seem to have misunderstood that a screwball comedy still needs a strong story to hold the zany elements together. What we get instead is something more akin to a variety or skit show featuring some good bits, but many more bad ones. The partially redeeming quality is McGregor, the new hot star in the world of movies (watch for him as the young Ben Kenobi in the next "Star Wars" film). Exuding a disheveled charm, you can't help but like the character he's created. While Cameron Diaz is an attractive addition to the cast, her portrayal of a rich spoiled heiress is essentially what you've seen in other similar movies -- despite her penchant for playing William Tell with bullets instead of arrows. She's what you'd expect Alicia Silverstone's character from "Excess Baggage" (another rich girl collaborates on her own kidnaping film) to evolve into after another ten years of financial excess and intellectual boredom.

    Both movies try hard at generating humor from kidnaping plots, and thankfully this film is a bit more successful. Helping this happen are the supporting characters, including Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub from last year's brilliant "Big Night." Tucci's take on an orthodontist, whose fiancÚ gave him a lobotomy via a bullet, is often hilarious. Unfortunately, we can't say the same about the characters embodied by Delroy Lindo and Holly Hunter. He seems lost and underplayed in his role, while she hams it up so much and then turns into a heaven-sent female "terminator" that you have no idea what to think of her. While her bits are occasionally humorous, they're more often annoying. Speaking of heaven, the film makers completely misplay that part of the plot and scenes there (where Dan Hedaya plays Gabriel as a harried executive) completely miss the boat. The whole notion of including the matchmaking angels seems out of place to begin with, but if it's going to be done, they should display some inventiveness (Think of "Defending Your Life" or "Heaven Can Wait"). This bureaucratic representation is flat and uninspired and while the latter can't be used to describe this film, it is disjointed and too rambunctious for its own good. While the film makers had good intentions and occasionally hit pay dirt with a few scenes, they don't add up to anything near a complete movie and the overall result is a disappointing mess. We give "A Life Less Ordinary" a 3 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    For a screwball romantic comedy, this film is surprisingly violent (considering the genre and not the film makers). Several people are shot and wounded, while the angels not only get rough themselves, but are also "killed" several times. Most of the violence is played to be funny and not taken seriously, but there are scenes, such as shooting apples from people's heads with a handgun, that you might not want your kids imitating. There's also a surprising amount of graphic bloodletting, some of which is from the violence, others from some flinch-inducing scalpel and razor blade action. Profanity is extreme with seventeen "f" and "s" words and an assortment of others, but there's not much sexual material beyond some discussions. Although it's doubtful many preteens will want to see this, some teenagers will, and thus we suggest that you examine the material before allowing them to see this film.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Robert drinks several shots of liquor in a bar.
  • Robert and Celine drink beer in a bar. Later, she sets up five shots of tequila for each of them and they race to see who can down all five first. Others also drink in the background.
  • Celine and her old fiancÚ drink champagne.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Naville's leg and hands are a little bloody after he's been shot.
  • Celine takes a razorblade and severely cuts the inside of her arm and blood quickly runs out and into a cup (she's going to use the blood with a ransom note).
  • Robert has a vision of Celine in the backseat with a bloody gunshot wound in her gut.
  • Robert's leg and hand are bloody after he's been shot.
  • We graphically see a scalpel cutting into a leg and blood squirting out.
  • O'Reilly's nose is bloody after she's been punched.
  • Two people are shot in the head and we see two small, bloody bullet holes. Later, however, their heads are quite bloody.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may not like the portrayal of angels as gun-toting, tobacco chewing "thugs."
  • Celine isn't nice to her father (and vice versa) and she tells him that the big problem was that her mother married a guy like him, a problem she's gone to lengths to avoid repeating. After Robert has accidentally shot her father in the leg, Celine says, "Shoot him again. This time in the head."
  • Robert and Celine break into and then stay inside someone's house.
  • Robert and Celine steal a truck at gunpoint, and later rob a bank at gunpoint.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Celine aims a gun at an apple on her servant's head and then shoots it off. She then does the same with her fiancÚ, but he moves and is shot in the head (not seen).
  • Robert finds a bomb in a trunk that's ticking down to detonation, and is then fired upon by a machine gun.
  • Celine holds a gun to a girl's head during a bank robbery and then does the same to Robert as if she's going to shoot him.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Machine guns: Used to threaten and/or shoot people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Handgun: Used by Celine to shoot an apple from her servant's head, and then from her fiancÚ's head, but he moves and is shot.
  • Bomb: Robert finds one in a trunk that's ticking down to detonation.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bitch" (once toward a woman), "Balls" (testicles) and "Shut up."
  • Celine plays a game where she shoots an apple from the top of people's heads. She does it once successfully, and then shoots her fiancÚ in the head on the next try.
  • Robert and Celine drink beer in a bar. Later, she sets up five shots of tequila for each of them and they race to see who can down all five first.
  • Celine takes a razorblade and severely cuts the inside of her arm and blood quickly runs out and into a cup (she's going to use the blood with a ransom note).
  • Robert and Celine steal a truck at gunpoint.
  • O'Reilly lies in the middle of the road to stop Robert from driving away.
  • After discovering that her credit card has been canceled, Celine robs a bank at gunpoint.
  • Celine shoots through Robert (leaving a see through hole) and hits the man behind him (seemingly without harming Robert -- despite the hole).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's just a minor bit of such music in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 9 "f' words (1 used with "mother"), 8 "s" words, 1 slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 2 asses (both using "hole"), 2 hells, 2 S.O.B.'s, 1 damn, 1 crap, and 2 uses each of "Oh my God" and "God," and 1 use each of "Swear to God," "Jesus," and "Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • After being "kidnaped," Celine asks Robert, "Are you going to try to have sex with me?" After he continually says "no" to her questions, she asks, "Do you have a problem with sex? Are you afraid of it?" He then explains that he has no sexual plans involving her.
  • We hear O'Reilly reading from a romance novel and hear bits of the standard but exaggerated love scene descriptions ("one writhing mass," etc...) commonly found in such novels.
  • Celine shows a little bit of cleavage in a swimsuit and later we see her in her high cut underwear.
  • Robert wakes up in the morning and asks Celine, "What happened?" She responds, "You were great." He states, "I was?" She appears to be teasing him about sleeping together (they didn't).
  • A woman reminds Celine about men, "Remember dear, they only want one thing -- (but) they might want it more than once..."
  • SMOKING
  • People smoke in the background of a bar.
  • O'Reilly puts a big wad of chewing tobacco in her mouth and then occasionally spits out the juice.
  • O'Reilly and Jackson smoke in one scene.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Celine isn't nice to her father (and vice versa) and she tells him that the big problem was that her mother married a guy like him, a problem she's gone to lengths to avoid repeating. After Robert has accidentally shot her father in the leg, Celine says, "Shoot him again. This time in the head."
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Playing with guns (especially in a William Tell manner).
  • The comic style in which they portray most of the violence.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Much of the material listed below is played for laughs. Nonetheless, it's still violence and whether you find it funny or not depends on you.
  • Celine accidentally (then again, perhaps intentionally) shoots her fiancÚ in the head when playing a game of William Tell with him (shooting the apple from the top of his head).
  • Robert tries to throw a robot through an office window, but it bounces off instead. Security guards then rush in, and tackle and beat him up (with punches). He grabs one of their guns, but a guard then punches him in the face. Later, he gets a gun again and shoots the robot. Then, although aiming the gun at Celine's father, he unintentionally shoots and hits him in the leg. Naville then bites Robert's leg.
  • Robert breaks a glass panel to get inside a house.
  • A machine gun is fired at Robert, riddling the car behind him with bullets.
  • Celine takes a razorblade and severely cuts the inside of her arm and blood quickly runs out and into a cup (she's going to use the blood with a ransom note).
  • Robert shoots Jackson's car to keep him from chasing him.
  • Celine punches O'Reilly and then hits Jackson on the head with a shovel.
  • Celine and O'Reilly struggle over a gun while driving and it's fired once. Robert then slams on the breaks and O'Reilly flips over the truck, slams onto the hood and then hits the road. Later, she's on the grill and Robert and Celine jump from the truck and it plummets over a cliff and smashes O'Reilly onto a boulder (but of course doesn't kill her -- she's an angel).
  • A bank security guard shoots and hits Robert in the leg.
  • We graphically see a scalpel cutting into a leg and blood squirting out.
  • Celine's fiancÚ punches Robert in the gut and then throws Celine to a sofa when she tries to intervene. Robert then head butts the man in retaliation.
  • Celine kicks and smashes her car radio.
  • Robert punches O'Reilly and then wrestles with Jackson for a gun.
  • Two people are shot in the head and another man is shot and wounded.



  • Reviewed October 20, 1997

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