Hearts in Atlantis

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By Mark Ramsey | 2001/11/24

You’d think a collaboration between the guy who wrote “The Shining,” the Butch Cassidy guy, and the guy who directed Shine would yield either a tremendous movie or at least one about a misunderstood genius western outlaw and pianist who slowly goes insane – a creeping lunacy all the more understandable if his significant other is the relentlessly “fugly” Shelley Duvall.

Then you recall these are the same people who brought you Maximum Overdrive, The General’s Daughter, and Snow Falling on Cedars. So knock on wood, America, your panties may wad up yet.

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Well, it turns out Hearts in Atlantis neither shines nor overdrives, but compared to the bulk of what’s been out lately, it surely is a small slice of heaven.

Hearts begins with David Morse opening a FedEx package to find an old baseball glove. The sentimental moment of reflection which follows signals this movie is from the Shawshank Redemptive Stephen King, not the Pet Semetarian Stephen King.

It’s the late 50′s – an era when every boy was “Bobby” and an inscrutable expression like “Easy, peasy, Japanesey” was the “Aight, yo Beeyatch” of its time.

Enter Sir Tony Hopkins who, with his big gut barely contained by a Hoover Dam of a t-shirt, looks rather unlikely to be eating brains unless brains come in a large bag with ridges, dip, and a TV Guide.

Relative unknown Anton Yelchin is “Bobby.” Sadly, Anton seems to be an alumnus of the Claymation Actor’s Studio – he can lead a band of stop-motion chickens to freedom, but as the yin to Anthony Hopkins’ yang his performance is thinner than a Whitney Houston profile. Haley Joel where art thou?!

Sir Tony is hiding from shadowy Untouchable-type guys in charcoal suits and serious hats – “the low-men.” These were the days when trouble dressed like Fred MacMurray and sounded like it came in a can from La Choy.

Sir Tony, you see, has “the shine,” special psychic powers allowing him to peer into your mind, into the future, and into his bank statement, which has never seen a role it didn’t like – even an upcoming one opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt where Sir Tony sells his soul to the Devil in the definitive example of life imitating art.

hearts_bottleofdinner.jpgBobby and his posse are confronted by sadistic adolescent bullies – if “bullies” is the right term to describe this Eddie Haskell brigade of sweater-vested A/V miscreants – their malevolent Schwinns equipped with bike-bells striking terror into peace-loving juveniles everywhere – “r-r-r-ring! r-r-r-ring!” If you find yourself in the foul headlights of these bikes, stash your film-strips in a safe place and hail a school safety immediately!

The chief bully, this Norman Rockwell juvenile offender, pedals around town with a baseball bat in a holster, ever ready to swat spontaneous fly-balls or lash out in case cookies and milk become scarce.

Bobby and his little girlfriend have a kissing scene under a clothesline, of all places. I think it’s a kissing scene anyway – there’s so much bedding and underwear flapping in the breeze they could be writing a Chris Kattan movie back there for all I know.

Hope Davis plays Bobby’s mother – she’s a single-mom secretary who looks enough like Sondra Locke to give Clint Eastwood the heebie jeebies. Sir Tony has the chills too, but that’s because he’s two gallons deep in Häagen Dazs.

No wonder the Queen has announced Sir Tony will now be known as SIRS Tony.

Hearts in Atlantis is a swift, solid tale of innocence lost and, for one already prominent actor, weight gained.


Photos Copyright ©2001 Warner Brothers

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