Movie reviews: “America’s Sweethearts”

Positioned as an alternative to the dinosaurs, America’s Sweethearts, starring John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy Crystal, is receiving few love notes from critics. “There are only human monsters in America’s Sweethearts,” comments Edward Jay Epstein in the Wall Street Journal, “but they are mostly cuddly, too, although harder to merchandise as dolls.” The problem, most reviewers say, is not the star-studded cast — which also includes Alan Arkin, Seth Green, Christopher Walken and Hank Azaria — but in the script. “Like a bottle of lukewarm champagne — an expensive one, judging by the label,” A.O. Scott observes in the New York Times, “America’s Sweethearts opens with a promising burst of effervescence and quickly goes flat.” Later, he remarks that Cusack and Roberts, in their romantic scenes, are forced to “fall back on familiar quirks and twitches in the absence of strong writing.” Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star uses such words as “tryingly bland,” “drab,” and “slackly timid” to describe the movie. “America’s Sweethearts would have been greatly helped by some rat-a-tat banter,” writes Francesca Chapman in the Philadelphia Daily News, “but instead you get blather, and plenty of it.” But Bob Longino of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is one of several critics who halfheartedly recommend it. “It’s still a perfectly pleasant time at the movies,” he observes. “America’s Sweethearts isn’t a flop,” says Jay Carr in the Boston Globe. “It’s just not as entertaining as one had hoped it would be, given its high-powered cast.” Lou Lumenick in the New York Post also aligns himself with the ho-hummers: “As undemanding summer movies go, America’s Sweethearts is surprisingly funny and sweet, despite some missed comic opportunities,” he comments. And Kenneth Turan concludes in the Los Angeles Times that the film “is entertaining as far as it goes, but it just hasn’t figured out how to go far enough.”