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The 100




Hope Floats
(1998)
Reviewed by Jenny LeComte
Rating: 8 Beans

hen “Hope Floats” was released in Australia, they were handing out free tickets like
iced lollies. After seeing the movie on a work-related cinema junket (our magazine got
piles of freebies despite the fact we don’t actually run movie reviews), I could
understand why. Even though I didn’t pay to get in, I still felt ripped off. Sandra
Bullock stars as Birdie Pruitt, a former prom queen from Texas who married the star
quarterback and moved to Chicago. When her best friend invites her to appear on a
Jerry Springer-esque talk show, the clueless Birdie thinks she’s getting a free
makeover. Silly girl. When your best friend invites you to appear on a Jerry
Springer-esque talk show, it’s usually to admit they’ve been having a lesbian affair with
your sister who is actually a man who underwent gender reassignment surgery when
you were five. In Birdie’s case, the “secret confession” of her best friend was pretty
pedestrian. “I’m having an affair with your husband,” she bleated. Gasp. Shock horror.
Pass the popcorn. Birdie was aghast when she realised her dirty laundry was being
aired to several million bored housewives with nothing better to do than watch Jerry
Springer-esque talk shows and pop Prozac. So what does Birdie do? Dumps her
unfaithful husband, straps her daughter Bernice into the car and roars out of Chicago
at a hundred miles an hour. I was about to cheer and shout “you go girl” until I
realised where Birdee was headed - the dusty Texan backwater where she grew up.
Oh, come on! If you’ve just been publicly humiliated, you don’t seek refuge in a hick
town where everybody knows everybody else’s business. Nor do you move in with
your taxidermist mother and a whole heap of dead animals. Smart girls dye their hair
platinum blonde (a la Gwyneth Paltrow in “Sliding Doors”), move to New York and
get tremendously exciting jobs. I was starting to realise Birdie just wasn’t very smart.
When she went to the local employment agency, my suspicions were confirmed. The
place was run by the former school geek, who hastened to remind Birdie of their
shared history. It seems Birdie and her cheerleader mates put the poor girl through all
manner of hell and she’d never, ever forgotten it. “Oh,” said Birdie, doe eyes glazing
over as she tried to grapple with an issue more complicated than what colour of nail
polish to try next. “Well, how about finding me a job anyway?” When the former
school geek said: “I don’t think there’s any vacancies for prom queens”, it provided
the only amusing moment in the whole movie. Birdie eventually finds a job in a photo
lab where she over-exposes somebody’s wedding photos and nearly gets garotted.
Despite her incompetence, the aging proprietor decides to keep Birdie on because
she’s kinda cute. Another person who’s most taken with Birdie is Justin Matisse, a
likely looking local who drives a pick-up truck. Justin is played by Harry Connick Jr,
whose main claims to fame are his singing (he’s a poor man’s Frank Sinatra) and his
wife (Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre - boys, BEHAVE!) HCJ is not...I repeat
NOT...an actor. “Hope Floats” director Forest Whitaker figured he’d get female bums
on seats because HCJ is such a heart throb. But hells bells, the guy can barely string
two words together. Watching the love scenes between Bullock and HCJ was pretty
excruciating. The chemistry was nil and you could see Bullock valiantly trying to save
the film from being a complete flop. When you’ve got a predictable storyline, a singer
trying to be an actor (and failing dismally), an actor trying to save her career (and
failing dismally) and a cast of annoying characters with twangy Texan accents, you
haven’t got a movie. You’ve got a shmozzle. “Hope Floats” sank before it even left the
dock.


Other reviews for this movie:

Stephenee Snell




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