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WAKING UP IN RENO

SYNOPSIS:
Arkansas car dealer Lonnie Earl (Billy Bob Thornton) and his best buddy Roy (Patrick Swayze) decide to take wives Darlene (Natasha Richardson) and Candy (Charlize Theron) on a road trip culminating in a monster truck rally in Reno, Nevada. Setting off in Lonnie Earl's 4WD, the foursome enjoy the first part of their journey before mild mannered Ray, who has been told he cannot father children, discovers that Darlene has slept with Lonnie Earl. Tension follows as Ray confronts Lonnie Earl and the friendship of the couples is put to the test.


Review by Richard Kuipers:
Four boring characters, a painfully unfunny road trip and drama that's not quite as convincing as a daytime soap opera add up to a wretched time in this redneck romantic comedy. Billy Bob Thornton must shoulder most of the blame for this turkey; it was he who commissioned Brent Briscoe and Mark Fauser to produce a screenplay for the kind of film Thornton always wanted to write but couldn't find the time. Pity Miramax, who found the time and money to green-light this project that might represent Thornton's dream but will be a nightmare for most paying customers. The fundamental problem here is credibility on any level. None of the characters are even remotely human - they're simply recycled stereotypes from every hillbilly/good 'ole boy/Deep South comedy made since Ma and Pa Kettle ruled the prairie. Take the goofy accents away and you have a quartet of dullards whose idea of wish fulfilment is eating a 72oz steak (Lonnie Earl) and seeing Tony Orlando in concert (Candy). With a monster truck rally as the Holy Grail at the end of this trip, there's not much to look forward to at any stage of proceedings. Even the revelation and resolution of Lonnie Earl's sexual indiscretion with Candy is handled in the style of a conservative TV sitcom or a would-be "racy" Bob Hope bedroom comedy from the 60s. Example: to even the infidelity equation, master negotiator Lonnie says 'Darlene and Roy gotta sleep together...like a dealer trade-in'. You get the picture. Swayze, Theron and Richardson are said to have signed on for the chance to work with Thornton but it's unlikely they'll be sending him any barrels of moonshine after such a thankless assignment with one-note characters. Ditto country singer and Thornton buddy Dwight Yoakam who co-produced and DOP William Fraker whose glossy visuals at least make this stinker look good. If you agree with this film's assessment of relationships as "being like a loaf of bread ... it gets hot and you get a rise and if you don't knead it they get old and stale," you may enjoy the cracker barrel philosophy and crude humour. The rest of us can be glad that The Union won the Civil War.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

WAKING UP IN RENO (M)
(US)

CAST: Billy Bob Thornton, Charlize Theron, Patrick Swayze, Natasha Richardson, Brent Briscoe, Wayne Federman

PRODUCER: Robert Salerno, Dwight Yoakam

DIRECTOR: Jordan Brady

SCRIPT: Brent Briscoe, Mark Fauser

CINEMATOGRAPHER: William A. Fraker

EDITOR: Lisa Zeno Churgin

MUSIC: Marty Stuart

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeannine Oppewall

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 29, 2003

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

VIDEO RELEASE: November 12, 2003







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