[Screen It]


(1997) (Robin Wright Penn, Sean Penn, John Travolta) (R)

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Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: A woman must choose between her husband of ten years and her ex-husband who's just been released from a mental institution whom she believes she still loves.
Maureen (ROBIN WRIGHT PENN) and Eddie Quinn (SEAN PENN) are poor, grimy, and desperately in love with each other. When Eddie, who's mentally ill, doesn't show up for several days, Maureen spends some time drinking with an apartment neighbor, Kiefer (JAMES GANDOLFINI), who ends up beating and then raping her. When Maureen finally finds Eddie with their friends Shorty (HARRY DEAN STANTON) and Georgie (DEBI MAZAR), she explains her bruises by saying she fell down in the rain. Eddie, however, knows differently and armed with a gun goes looking for Kiefer, but ends up shooting another man instead. Arrested and found to be mentally unstable, Eddie's locked away. Ten years later Maureen has seemingly turned her life around. Married to Joey (JOHN TRAVOLTA), the owner of construction firm, she has three children and lives in what appears to be suburban bliss. She's been counting the days, however, until Eddie's release, and when that occurs she tells Joey that she still loves her first husband. Joey can't believe this, and invites Eddie to their house to resolve this predicament. As the three get together, it's anyone's guess as to whom Maureen will finally choose.
If they're fans of anyone in the cast they might, but the subject material will not be appealing to most children.
For strong language and some violence.
None of the cast members are remotely near being good role models.


OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Filled with impressive, but depressingly bleak performances, "She's So Lovely" ultimately falls prey to its own design and unbelievable story progression. Penned by the late director John Cassavetes (and directed by his son, Nick), the story was written as a fable dealing with love, and it's the unreal representation of that which dooms the production. The premise is interesting enough and would seem to set into motion a powder keg ready to go off especially considering the fiery and often dramatically eruptive actors involved. Indeed the performances range from good to tremendous with Penn delivering what may be the best of his career. His character is believable as is his descent into madness, the plot element that turns the story around one hundred and eighty degrees. Several truly heart felt moments (and a hilarious line about the age of his daughter) occur when his character, who's lost all sense of time, thinks that only three months have passed when it's really been ten years. Travolta and Mrs. Penn are good in their roles, but are hampered by silly and usually unbelievable character motivation. Would Joey really invite Eddie who he thinks is a crazy ex-husband to their home so that they can "work things out," and would Maureen forgo her own children so that she can be with her mentally unstable husband? Even Penn's character suddenly pops out of his mental fog near the end of the film making this reviewer wonder what jump-started his cerebrum and what clouded the minds of the scriptwriter and director at this point. The film has an extremely uneven feel to it and adding in the rather unsavory and bleak atmosphere surrounding these people, you get a depressing movie that strangely had some audience members laughing out loud. Perhaps we were supposed to accept the movie as a fable and thus not as a realistic drama, but the film contains few humorous moments and the overall lack of logic throws the movie into a tailspin. The film completely falls apart at the end when it finally gets around to the big element revolving around Maureen's tough decision which husband to pick. While we're led to believe that she has changed over the story's ten year gap (noted by her physical appearance and her upscale suburban home), the first moment we see her we know she isn't any different than before and that comes across as very odd. A complete transformation on her part, where we'd see how good her life had become and how she now loved Joey, would have better helped the audience accept the situation. Instead, she's the same person in different clothes. Although the moral of the story is that love is a strong bond, it's doubtful she'd have any problem deciding whom to stay with at the story's end. Likewise, it's unbelievable that Maureen could have kept her longing for Eddie secret from Joey for the past ten years, and his reaction to all of this is similarly non-realistic. All of this is too bad as the movie starts out promisingly enough, and had a dose of reality been thrown into the plot, it could have been a very good film. As it stands, however, it has decent performances, but the illogical character motivation, bad plot elements, and overall depressing quality drag the film down into the doldrums. We give "She's The Lovely" just a 3 out of 10.
The three main characters drink, smoke and curse a lot (none of which should look too glamorous to kids) throughout the movie, and thus aren't good role models. There's moderate violence with one man being shot (but not killed), Maureen being beaten and raped (the latter is implied and off- camera), and a few other punches thrown. Profanity is extreme with 60+ "f" words and there are a few lines of dialogue regarding sexual matters. While young children probably won't see this film, there are several scenes involving a nine-year-old having conflicting emotions about her biological and adoptive fathers, and all of Joey and Maureen's kids must deal with her leaving them. If you and/or your kids plan on seeing this film, we suggest that you decide whether it's appropriate viewing by first reading through the category content.

  • There are many scenes set in a bar (and elsewhere) where the main characters, as well as others in the background, drink quite a bit. Maureen drinks a lot throughout the film and both Eddie and Joey also drink shots of liquor.
  • There are several scenes where people drink while in a moving car.
  • Maureen and Eddie are drunk after a night of drinking.
  • Eddie shoots a man after drinking several glasses of a mixture of many different liquors.
  • Eddie has a glass of wine at a hairdresser and later drinks down an entire bottle of wine in one gulp.
  • Joey, Eddie and Shorty drink at Joey' home. Later, Joey (swept up in his rage) asks his nine-year-old daughter if she wants a beer and then lets her drink one after she says yes.
  • Kiefer's head is bloody after being hit with a bottle.
  • Maureen's face is bloody and bruised after Kiefer hits her several times.
  • Kiefer's face is a little bloody after Eddie punches him.
  • Eddie has some bloody cuts on his face and neck after jumping through a glass window.
  • Eddie finds Maureen in the bathroom trying to slice her wrists and a little bit of blood is seen.
  • Eddie's nose is a little bloody after being punched by Joey.
  • Eddie doesn't show up for several days, worrying Maureen and initially this seems disrespectful. When we learn, however, that he's mentally unstable, we know better.
  • Maureen smokes and drinks despite being pregnant.
  • Kiefer makes a move on Maureen even though he knows she's married and pregnant.
  • Joey curses in front of his young daughters (the oldest is nine), is often mean to them, and lets his nine-year-old drink a beer.
  • Maureen tells Joey point blank that she still loves Eddie and that she was just "passing time" with him until Eddie was released.
  • Viewers may find scenes listed under "Violence" as also being tense.
  • Eddie, armed with a handgun, goes looking for Kiefer with revenge in mind.
  • Handgun(s): Used by Eddie to shoot through Kiefer's door and then later to shoot a security aide in the stomach. Joey later uses one to threaten Eddie and then fires it into the air to get everyone's attention.
  • Phrases: "Screw" (non sexual), "Idiot," "Bastard," "Geez," "Piss," "Lowlife," "Whore," "Balls" (testicles) and "Shut up" (Joey often says to his kids).
  • Kiefer playfully chases after Maureen shooting her with a fire extinguisher.
  • Eddie breaks off the neck of a wine bottle and then drinks down the contents in one gulp.
  • Maureen is briefly seen trying to slit her own wrists.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 62 "f" words, 21 "s" words, 5 slang terms for male genitals (the "p" and "c" words), 1 slang term for breasts (the "t" word), 10 "ass" words (5 using "hole"), 9 hells, 3 S.O.B.'s, 3 damns, 5 uses each of "Jesus Christ" and "Jesus," 4 uses each of "G-damn" and "Swear to God," and 1 use of "For Christ's sakes."
  • Part of Maureen's butt is briefly seen while she sleeps in her underwear.
  • Kiefer shows Maureen a trick with a towel. He makes her blow on the rolled up towel that then takes on the shape of a penis.
  • A counselor asks Maureen if "sex is good." Maureen replies, "With Eddie?" and the counselor says, "With anybody." Maureen then says that it's perfect with Eddie.
  • Eddie tells Maureen that he wouldn't want to be a woman with a gynecologist "...sticking his fingers inside your private parts."
  • Eddie asks a stereotypical gay hairdresser if he can kiss him and then does so before the man can answer.
  • Nearly everyone smokes, with Maureen smoking the most throughout the film, followed by Joey and Eddie.
  • There are many scenes set in a bar (and elsewhere) where the main characters, as well as others in the background, smoke.
  • Eddie's return threatens Joey and Maureen's marriage and she tells Joey that she still loves Eddie and that she's going to leave with him.
  • Joey and Maureen's children are affected by all of this as well. The oldest daughter (whose father is Eddie) must deal with meeting her biological father, and all of the girls watch as their mother leaves to go and live with Eddie.
  • What happened to Eddie (he has a mental breakdown).
  • Meeting one's biological parents (as Eddie's daughter must do with him).
  • Kiefer throws Maureen onto his sofa and climbs on top of her. She tries to fight him off and then finally bashes a bottle against his head, cutting him. He then hits her several times and then rapes her (the latter of which is implied).
  • After Maureen drunkenly bangs on his door, Kiefer comes out and pushes her to the floor, causing Eddie to grab Kiefer and punch him many times. Moments later, Kiefer then strikes Eddie on the back of the head with a club. Maureen then hits Kiefer over the head with a chair.
  • Eddie shoots several holes in Kiefer's door. Later at a bar, Eddie is confronted by a social worker/security aide and shoots this man in the stomach. He then runs and jumps through the bar's storefront window, cutting himself and is later captured by the police.
  • Eddie stops Maureen from slicing open her wrists.
  • Joey pulls out a gun to threaten Eddie and later races out of the house and shoots it several times to prevent Maureen from leaving with Eddie. Eddie and Shorty then wrestle with Joey for the gun with several punches thrown. Georgie also kicks Joey while Eddie bites Joey's wrist.

  • Reviewed August 30, 1997

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