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  • Kritik: The Burden of Paradise

    starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Martin Short; directed by Charles Shyer

    is George Banks, anxious suburban father and amiable narrator. That he should be anxious is interesting--his life, he keeps insisting, is "perfect." He has (as he very accurately describes it) the "perfect,

    ), is the perfectly delicious Kimberly Williams. His wised-up twelve-year-old son is played by Kieran Culkin, of the clan that has all but locked the patent on perfect movie kids. What is this man's problem?

    Perfection. Paradise (by all human definition) is a burden that can only be shouldered with hypochondria and an obsession with lost youth--it's not a place habitable by sane people. This, at least, is the subversive theme of this little comedy. George is so upset that his grown-up "baby" daughter is pregnant that he dyes his white hair black to feel young again and ends up impregnating his own wife as well. The two pregnancies provoke a double helix of comic outrage in the now grandfather- and father-to-be. He had, in a midlife fit, unloaded their perfect house to an Arab (Eugene Levy) who wishes to tear it down. Now he is forced to buy it back, at a huge loss that he will be years paying off. What's more, he lets Franck (Martin Short)--a pseudo-gay, pseudo-foreign decorator who has dropped by from the first

    And yet all this travail--which climaxes in a double delivery, with George sliding (trademark Steve Martin) from one side of the hospital corridor to the other--is the cure for his anxiety. Director Charles Shyer, who co-wrote the adaptation with his wife, Nancy Meyers, is clearly intending a Capra-esque affirmation of the healthy effects of daily struggle; the problem with earthly "paradise" is that it is too static, that it does not renew. Cheerful surrender to duty, sacrifice, struggle in the name of love and loved ones--that is the true hope and purpose of life.

    This theme is badly served in two places. First, there is the stereotype of the greedy Arab; I hate to sound like the political-correctness police here, but Levy's caricature acting (owing to the character as written) is flat-out soulless, and it deeply uglifies the movie. Second, there is a similarly bigoted joke about drive-by gangbangers; this is less offensive--urban reality being what it is--but coming on the heels of a minstrel-show Arab, it tilts the movie away from its nobler touches and reveals the filmmakers to be even more fear-ridden than the hero they're poking fun at.

    Martin Short--whose role could have been just as distressing--becomes, by grace of his physical power and his sheer unpredictability, not a stereotype of "foreignness," but instead George's comedic, nightmare shadow. As well he should: Steve Martin embodies everything that is best about this film--its optimism, its hopefulness. He has become such a soulful player that he can provoke tears now as easily as he has always done laughter. In a comedy built on "maturity," that's a particularly exciting growth spurt to behold. --

    Perfection. Paradise (by all human definition) is a burden that can only be shouldered with hypochondria and an obsession with lost youth--it's not a place habitable by sane people. This, at least, is the subversive theme of this little comedy. George is so upset that his grown-up "baby" daughter is pregnant that he dyes his white hair black to feel young again and ends up impregnating his own wife as well. The two pregnancies provoke a double helix of comic outrage in the now grandfather- and father-to-be. He had, in a midlife fit, unloaded their perfect house to an Arab (Eugene Levy) who wishes to tear it down. Now he is forced to buy it back, at a huge loss that he will be years paying off. What's more, he lets Franck (Martin Short)--a pseudo-gay, pseudo-foreign decorator who has dropped by from the first Father of the Bride

    " house. His wife, Nina, is played by the most perfect of modern screen comediennes, . His daughter, Annie (married off in the previous ), is the perfectly delicious Kimberly Williams. His wised-up twelve-year-old son is played by Kieran Culkin, of the clan that has all but locked the patent on perfect movie kids. What is this man's problem?

    Ihre Fragen, Hinweise oder Kritik

    Onliner vom Dienst

    Fabian Strunk

    Tel.: 0261 / 892 324

    Kontakt per E-Mail

     

     

    Fragen zum Abo: 0261 / 98 36 2000

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