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Outside Providence (March 14/01)

It's hard to believe that Outside Providence is from the same guys that did Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary.

While it does contain a few gross-out gags (such as the guy "brain flossing"), on the whole, the movie doesn't really concern itself with that sort of humour. Shawn Hatosy stars as Tim Dunphy (or Dildo, as his dad likes to call him), a young man from a poor family who spends most of his days getting high with his friends on top of the town's water tower. One day, though, circumstances push Tim into an upper class prep school, where he falls in love with a rich girl named Jane (Amy Smart) and finds that there's more to life than getting high.

Hatosy, previously seen in teen movies like The Faculty and Varsity Blues, comes into his own here. He's playing a character that initially isn't too likable but as the film progresses, becomes more endearing. Ditto Amy Smart. This is a role that could have easily been a throwaway part (the too-good-to-be-true girl), but she infuses the role with a lot of humour and life, and the two become a couple worth rooting for.

Alec Baldwin (!) co-stars as Tim's not-too-bright blue collar dad, who spends most of his days sitting in his barcalounger watching daytime television and drinking beer. Hard to believe this is the same guy that played a ruthless doctor in Malice. He's really good here. The character initially seems like just another Al Bundy clone, but as the movie progresses (and as Baldwin gets to live in the character more), we find that there's more than meets the eye.

There's nothing terribly original here - the coming-of-age storyline is one of the oldest - but the performances and genuinely sweet and charming vibe make this one worth checking out.

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