Nurse Betty

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By Mark Ramsey | 2000/09/09

Ya know, Chris Rock is a brilliant comedian, but you don’t give Samuel L. Jackson an HBO Comedy Special and you shouldn’t cast Chris as a street-tough hit-man with an itchy trigger finger, especially an un-funny itchy trigger finger.

Don’t whip out that pistol, Chris, it might squirt somebody! And Chris, stop screaming your dialogue – this ain’t I Love Lucy.

To prove he’s a violent S.O.B. Chris scalps a guy – that’s the first cinematic scalping I paid to see since Battlefield: Earth.

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Nurse Betty is a black comedy that’s heavy on the black and light on the comedy. I’m sure not cool enough to like this movie and odds are, neither are you. Naturally, the folks at Cannes handed Nurse Betty a best screenplay award as an eye-for-an-eye retribution for the Croissanwich. Just listen to that Cannish laughter!

That wonderful actor and dermatological refugee Morgan Freeman is Chris’s hit-man partner, his mentor, and – get this – his dad. And I thought Darth and Luke were a surprise pair!

But the real star of this dumb movie is listless and lifeless homemaker and waitress Renée Zellweger, looking very Rebecca De Mornay. Here’s my two cents, Renée: More Nurse Betty Hurley and less Nurse Betty Crocker.

Renée carries a life-size cardboard cutout of Greg Kinnear proving either she’s on the crew for Talk Soup’s mall appearances or Steven Segal has lost his acting coach. Is this the new Greg Kinnear packaging from Federal Express: “When it absolutely, positively needs to look good getting there overnight”?

Renée completely swaps fantasy for reality, thinking soap actors are real people and Jim Carrey is a suitable life-mate. Amazingly, everybody thinks she’s cute and sweet rather than nuts, so her ridiculously compelling confusion finagles a supporting gig on her favorite soap – she’s sort of a Nurse Betty Rubble.

Morgan and Chris chase down Renée because some drugs are missing and maybe she’s got ‘em, blah blah blah.

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“I crossed the River Styx to find her,” says Morgan when he finally catches up with Renée after needlessly lengthening his cross country trip with a detour over ancient Greek waterways.

Morgan tells Renée he’s a “garbage-man of the human condition,” which explains why he backs up and beeps. A hard-boiled killer he may be, but a sensitive one – and only on Thursdays unless it’s a holiday week.

It’s Morgan who removes his Top Gun aviator sunglasses long enough to deliver the moral of this story: It’s okay to be who you are, girl, and you don’t need a man or a pristine complexion to do it – and a Stephen King prison movie doesn’t hurt, either.

Or, quoting the music of the River Styx, “It’s a grand illusion. Deep inside we’re all the same.”

Well lah dee dah.


Photos Copyright ©2000 USA Films

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