Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/08/18

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has the smell of prestige, but that’s not all it stinks of, folks. With a title like that, the folks at Miramax couldn’t do a better job keeping the theater empty if they ringed the entrance with wolfbane and garlic.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is brought to you by director John Madden, creator of the wonderful Shakespeare in Love and star of countless ACE Hardware commercials. If ever you needed proof that lightning doesn’t strike twice unless you’re Tom Hanks, it’s playing at a theater near you.

captain_armsoutstretched.jpgCorelli, schmorelli. I’d be more interested if this movie were named after Cap’n Crunchelli and came in Peanut Butter flavor.

Everybody knows Hollywood’s full of babes who swap their bods for success and dudes who trade their success for bods. That doesn’t include Penelope Cruz, of course. She’s very picky. She dates only leading men. Every last one.

I don’t know about you, but before my name goes above the title with Penelope’s, I’m gettin’ me a restraining order. Since when does The Actor’s Studio teach a class called “Principles of Movement 200: The Knee-knockin’ California King tango”?

Right now, of course, Penelope is attached to her most recent co-star, Tom Cruise, who has swapped the super-sized Nicole Kidman for Snack Pack sized Penelope. Speaking of snacks, when Penelope goes topless I got a sudden urge for Raisinets.

Penelope’s co-star Nic Cage has always attracted beautiful women, albeit ones whose character flaws are deep enough to bypass therapy in favor of oil drilling. Baggage or not, a Nic and Penelope pairing makes for the most unbelievable match-up since Batman and the Bookworm.

captain_fatherdaughter.jpgWe’re in Greece. It’s 1940, and there’s a war on. The Greeks are dancing on a hillside as the Italian troops march by. Anthony Quinn died just in time to avoid this movie which speaks to his keen sense of timing. Greek acting diva Irene Papas wasn’t so lucky.

Penelope hails from the same part of Greece that gives us dialogue coach Antonio Banderas. Meanwhile, for a real-life Italian guy, Nic Cage is the least credible Italian guy you’ll ever see. Who’s his inspiration, Chico Marx? “Bella bambina,” says Nic to Penelope, “we’re Italian, famous for singing, eating, making love, and doing visual inspections of our Navy through a glass-bottom boat.”

Penelope spends most of this movie forlornly walking from one place to another wearing an endless variety of period bonnets and baskets. This babe needs a red riding hood and a grandmother’s house.

Penelope’s dad is played by esteemed but none too picky Elephant Man actor and Stalin look-alike John Hurt, proving that while many things may be hereditary, odd looks and considerable talent aren’t among them.

Christian Bale works miracles with less than miraculous dialogue (“Once I thought my heart was overflowing with love for you”). Maybe it’s because Chris looks like a dead ringer for Jesus Christ. Or is it Kurt Russell in The Thing?

Who knew the mandolin could be an instrument of torture? Couldn’t they save the lengthy mandolin solos for the DVD? The cutting room floor was begging for some of this footage. Listen: “Give me the footage!!! GIVE ME THE FOOTAGE!

My advice: If it’s wartime romance you’re after, choose the one where the Japanese bomb the Pacific fleet. For all the fuss, I can’t escape the feeling I’m watching A&E.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin may not steal your heart but it’ll certainly snake your wallet.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Universal Pictures


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