America’s Sweethearts

Though it’s by no means a classic, this underrated little gem from 2001 is much funnier than much more highly-regarded Hollywood comedies. It skirts a fine line between romcom, satire and American Pie-style gross-out gags, but comes out winsomely as light, cheeky fun.

Most of its strengths lie in its casting – Billy Crystal, Stanley Tucci and Seth Green handle the satire while John Cusack and Julia Roberts put on their best love-me faces.

Best of all, Christopher Walken has a memorable bit-part as the unhinged director whose new film is being screened to the press before the producers or any of the cast have seen it. It’s publicist Billy Crystal’s terror of a flop that pushes him into his hairbrained scheme to reunite estranged A-listers John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and he accordingly gets most of the best lines.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is on top form as the self-absorbed starlet, and Hank Azaria is great as her dim-witted lover. The straightforward plot sees Cusack and Zeta-Jones dragged off to a press junket and manipulated by those around them into various ill-fated attempts to bring them back together. Julia Roberts is Zeta-Jones’s put-upon PA, and Stanley Tucci plays basically the same character he plays in those Orange ads at the cinema. Between the razor-sharp one-liners and light lampooning of the Hollywood publicity machine, we have an enjoyably predictable chick-flick that boys should like too.

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