Head Over Heels
review by Dan Lybarger, 9 February 2001

Head Over Heels is billed as a comedy, but it plays more like a Frankenstein monster. Assembled from together with clichťs from several different genres, the movie lumbers along clumsily as if its legs were never meant to walk together. It took four credited writers (John J. Strauss, Ed Decter, David Kidd and Ron Burch) to try to glue all of this together, and their work doesnít gel. Anemic hints of macabre, gross-out humor, corny double entendres and mawkish romanticism fall together as unnaturally and unconvincingly as the two leads.

Monica Potter (Patch Adams) stars as Amanda Pierce, an art restorer who throws herself into her work as an art restorer because her love life has been so disappointing. Men have dumped her or cheated on her with impunity. When her latest beau is found beneath another woman, she tries to find another place to live. The one place that is in her price range is a closet in expensive loft inhabited by four models: Jade (Shalom Harlow), Roxana Ivana Milicevic, Candi (Sarah O'Hare) and Holly Tomiko Fraser).

This setup is the first of several mistakes. Potter is simply too attractive to pass for a plain Jane. The only difference between her and her roommates is that she isnít greedy or lobotomized. Even in her painting smocks, she looks so comely that when her roommates "dress her for success," the audience canít tell the difference. In addition, the quartet has one-note characters that arenít particularly amusing. Candi, a backward Australian who fits every stereotype about blondes, has an incestuous personal history that is mistakenly played for laughs. Director Mark S. Waters, who also tried this angle in The House of Yes, may want to consider expanding his repertoire.

The center of the film is supposed to the relationship between Amanda and a young, wealthy fashion executive named Jim Winston (Freddie Prinze, Jr.). Like his predecessors, Winston seems ideal when introduced (except for his ferocious Great Dane). Her perceptions change when she believes that she witnesses him murdering a young woman. Waters handles the shift in moods awkwardly, and Prinze (like Harrison Ford in What Lies Beneath) is not up to the challenge. With his puppy-dog eyes and earnest demeanor, itís easy to see why heís become a heartthrob. Nonetheless, he doesnít demonstrate the range necessary to convince in this sort of role. The interaction between him and Potter isnít terribly engaging or well thought out, so never once does a viewer get a sense they belong together.

Waters attempts to match the Farrelly brothers in a series of lame body functions jokes. Unfortunately, he lacks the siblingsí creativity. They have a knack for finding the dark side of using dental floss or hair gel, whereas Waters assumes that the sight of four women being sprayed by feces is amusing in itself. The director also attempts to stage some pratfalls, but he has no ideal how to shot or edit them (can you spot the stunt double?). The actors also have little idea how to perform them.

Just like an unholy creature put together from the dead, Head Over Heels threatens to fall apart in motion and lives up to its pledge.

Directed by:
Mark S. Waters

Starring:
Monica Potter
Freddie Prinze Jr.
Shalom Harlow
Ivana Milicevic
Sarah O'Hare
Tomiko Fraser
Raoul Ganeev

Written by:
Ron Burch
David Kidd

Rated:
PG-13 - Parents
Strongly Cautioned
Some material ma
be inappropriate for
children under 13

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