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The actresses in this film decide
that the only way to get through it,
will be to get themselves entirely
sloshed.

Under the Tuscan Sun
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) is stuck in a rut.  Mayes lost her man, is a novelist having incredible writer's block and her two Lesbian friends have managed to get pregnant, while the most she's accomplished over the past couple of years is to give birth to a few negative reviews of other author's novels. 

Noticing her friend's depression over being a wealthy book critic and esteemed novelist, her pregnant lesbian friend Patti (Sandra Oh) decides to hand over her planned vacation to Tuscany to the downtrodden Frances.  It's a gay tour of Italy, so Frances doesn't have to worry about men trying to hit on her.  She can just sit on a bus and be sort of depressed.  That's fun, right?

Bored with all the fun of being depressed on a bus, Frances impulsively buys a rundown villa, and makes the place her home.  The villa needs a lot of work, so a construction crew comes in and the movie turns into The Money Pit.  Only a less funny version.  And The Money Pit wasn't that hysterical in the first place. 

From here the film goes all over the place.  It's as scattered as a painting by Jackson Pollock, as forgettable as a mid-season replacement sitcom on UPN, as moving as a boulder, and as predictable as a self-flushing toilet.  It's The Lizzie McGuire Movie for middle-aged folk. 

That's not to say it's an odious picture.  It's not really much of anything.  It's hard to love or hate this movie.  Under the Tuscan Sun is cutesy and casual.  It's the insubstantial kind of flick you wouldn't mind watching on cable TV, if you were really bored, lonely and looking to top your popcorn with extra sap. 

The film does show a bit of promise toward the end.  Frances has been praying for three specific things, while in Tuscany.  She doesn't believe her prayers have been answered, but finds each one of them was responded to - only in a different way than she had expected.  Upon discovering this, Frances finally seems to be content.  Okay, cue the credits.  Why aren't the credits being cued?  Why is the movie still going? 

Like the heartstring-pulling Secondhand Lions, Under the Tuscan Sun refuses to quit while it's ahead.  To please the brain-numbed majority, we have a tacked on ending that's about as believable as one of those Wal-Mart ads where happy idiots brag about how they've worked at the monstrous retail box for "eight joyous years." 

There are plenty of films currently playing at your neighborhood theater and ready to blow your mind (Thirteen and American Splendor come to mind); so unless you actually like watching pabulum pictures, check one of those films out, rather than wasting your time with Under the Tuscan Sun.  It will be time better spent.

And to those asking, "What about Diane Lane's performance?" Let me put it this way: she won't be nominated for a Best Actress award by the Academy for a second year in a row. Her performance is about what you'd see in a decent situation comedy. The same goes for most of the cast of the film.  

On a scale of 1-10?

4 (for the lighthearted but entirely forgettable laughs, and the scenery)

What does this rating mean?  Everyone rates things differently.  Your "5" could be my "7," or vice-versa.  Find out what MY rating means by clicking here

Agree? Disagree? Feeling bored and wanna write a letter that you'll probably never get a response to?  Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com 

Coming soon -- Reviews of Kill Bill, Mystic River and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

Other recent film reviews on THE JUICY CEREBELLUM (click on a film's title to go to its review):

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Underworld

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Lost in Translation

Cabin Fever

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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].