America’s Sweethearts

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/07/18

Any movie written and directed by Billy Crystal is likely to reek of Saturday night in the Catskills, and a whiff of Borscht Belt bromide permeates every crevice of America’s Sweethearts. This vaudeville should open with an impressionist and a couple of jugglers.

I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen this many supremely talented actors frittered away in such a slight romantic comedy. Hardly The Fast and the Furious, America’s Sweethearts is more like The Lethargic and the Benign.


Just when I was thinking that Julia Roberts could never again make a bad career move, here she is amid Jurassic Jokes about Senor Wences and Audrey Hepburn. Say, Billy, is this movie set in 1955? Should the audience wear black turtlenecks and play bongos? Should I bone up on my Perry Como? Should I duck-and-cover when your title credit appears?

Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones play sisters. Sisters who sleep together. Sisters who bathe each other. In short, I don’t remember a word they said; my imagination was busy dictating an altogether different story treatment.

America’s Sweethearts features a movie-within-the-movie and a press junket during which said movie is promoted. Unfortunately, the movie-within is missing in action. Why can’t life imitate art?

The biggest groaner in this film is the otherwise talented Hank Azaria. Hank plays a Hispanic guy with a remarkably stereotypical funny accent – “I’m not invited to the hunket? This is bullchit!” By God it is 1955 and this is I Love Lucy. Have I slipped into “The Time Machine at An Evening at the Improv”?

My hero, John Cusack, is perhaps the only soul to emerge from this mess with dignity intact. I’ll forgive you this, John. I worship the lame-ass punchlines you repeatedly tread on.

Silliness reigns when Billy is virtually fellated by Catherine Zeta-Jones’ dog. Either Poochie’s an English Sheepdog or that’s Bruce Vilanch down there. Who can tell?

americasweet_uglyroadie.jpgLate in America’s Sweethearts the press junket degrades into a circus of sitcom-like histrionics, climaxing (such as it is) with a romantic kiss between young lovers as the room full of jaded journalists bursts into spontaneous, riotous, heart-tugging applause. The booze was obviously free.

There are oodles of real film critics in this movie sinking to ridiculous new lows in what will undoubtedly come to be known as “the best movie I’ve ever been in.” Even human celebrity bidet Byron Allen makes an appearance. He plugs his website, which I believe was called

If there’s any justice in the world, America’s Sweethearts will flame-out despite its star-power. Once word leaks out about this dud, the only chance of long lines at the box office will be if someone sees an image of the Virgin Mary in Billy’s salt-and-pepper beard.

A bunch of guys sitting near me were laughing their heads off. I think their names were Buddy, Morty, Sid and Shecky. I, meanwhile, was not amused. But at least the spiritually divine image in Billy’s beard miraculously cured my headache.

Just don’t tell me I was healed by a random pattern of Grape Nuts.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures


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