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Paramount's June '06 Releases

Mommie Dearest (June 23/06)

It's not at all surprising that Mommie Dearest has been transformed into a cult classic in the years since its 1981 theatrical release, given the film's unmistakably campy vibe and star Faye Dunaway's hilariously over-the-top performance. The movie - based on Christina Crawford's autobiography - details the tempestuous relationship between Crawford and her movie-star mother, Joan Crawford (Dunaway). Sporting a glacial pace and filmed without an ounce of style, Mommie Dearest relies almost entirely on Dunaway's histrionics to propel the story forward - resulting in a movie that's good for a few unintentional laughs but little else. And while there are some interesting tidbits here and there - most revolving around Joan's desperate attempts to hold onto her rapidly deteriorating fame - the film's emphasis generally remains on the more salacious elements of its subjects' lives. There is, consequently, absolutely no authenticity to any of this; the screenplay (credited to four writers) has all the depth of a made-for-Lifetime production, as evidenced by the ceaseless use of melodramatic cliches and trashy plot developments (one can't help but laugh at the sequence in which Joan gets so mad at Christina she literally attempts to strangle her). As for Dunaway, her shrill, thoroughly unpleasant performance is obviously the key reason behind the movie's newfound success - but really, this is the sort of work one expects out of a hammy soap actor.

out of


Nate and Hayes (June 24/06)

Old fashioned but far from compelling, Nate and Hayes revolves around the unlikely partnership that forms between pirate Bully Hayes (Tommy Lee Jones) and stuffy aristocrat Nathaniel Williamson (Michael O'Keefe) after the latter's fiancee is kidnapped by ruthless miscreant Ben Pease (Max Phipps). Although the movie has developed into a minor cult classic over the years, there's little here to hold the interest of most viewers - something that's due primarily to the emphasis on overblown action sequences and ill-conceived attempts at comedy. Director Ferdinand Fairfax imbues the film with a distinctly flat sense of style, while screenwriters David Odell and John Hughes (!) generally substitute snarky one-liners in place of actual character development. The tentative friendship between Jones' Hayes and O'Keefe's Nate is the most intriguing aspect of a film that is otherwise tedious and surprisingly routine, despite the inclusion of Jones' admittedly broad yet undeniably engaging performance.

out of

About the DVDs: Paramount Pictures presents each of these titles with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, and although Nate and Hayes does not contain any bonus features, Mommie Dearest is brimming with supplemental materials (commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes featurettes, trailers, etc).
© David Nusair