They should have cooked 'Home Fries' a bit longer Movie reviews

November 25, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

If the characters in "Home Fries" were anything more than one-note caricatures, the film might have been on to something.

But they aren't, and the result is a fitfully amusing, relentlessly wry stab at black comedy that's more quirky than funny and manages to make even the usually effervescent Drew Barrymore boring.

The film opens with a military helicopter chasing a guy through a field and literally scaring him to death -- all part of a plot by a pair of knucklehead brothers (Luke Wilson and Jake Busey) and their conniving mother (Catherine O'Hara, always fun to watch) to enact revenge for some philanderings on the part of their stepfather.

Unfortunately, these guys never shut up, even while they're making like fighter pilots, and their yapping is picked up by the headphones at a local burger joint -- specifically, by the very pregnant Sally (Barrymore). Concerned about leaving any loose ends behind, gung-ho Angus (Busey) suggests blowing her away, too. But good-hearted lunkhead Dorian (Wilson) isn't so sure.

Angus is pretty persuasive, however, and Dorian ends up taking a job at the burger place, the better to spy on Sally and find out what she knows. And, naturally, to fall in love with her. Which makes it rather irritating when Angus keeps insisting his brother do the necessary thing.

Writer Vince Gilligan, whose script was part of a screenwriting contest sponsored by the state of Virginia, populates the film with characters who can each be described with a single word (there's manic Angus, reluctant Dorian, scheming mom, noble Sally). That lack of depth makes them all pretty tiring (it's never hard to figure what's going to happen next) and hardly sympathetic.

"Home Fries" contains a few good lines, and it's offbeat enough to get an A for effort. In the end, you can't help but think there's a good story in these characters; this just isn't it.

'Home Fries'

Starring Drew Barrymore and Luke Wilson

Directed by Dean Parisot

Released by Warner Bros.

Rated PG-13 (Language, sexual situations)

Running time 92 minutes

Sun score **

Pub Date: 11/25/98

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