Film Reviews

Enough Already

It's very tempting to not just dismiss Enough, the latest bill-paying gig by Michael Apted (Enigma) starring Jennifer Lopez, but shred it altogether. Ms. Lopez hasn't exactly added to her acting credibility with a string of showy, glamorous roles in such mediocre fare as The Wedding Planner and Angel Eyes. Rather, she's been more concerned with becoming a dance-hall diva, putting out CDs that get snapped up by 12-year-old girls and gay men. J. Lo, as she's now known in the music world, is probably having a lot of fun as a pop star, but it hurts her believability on film. Seeing her in full beauty makeup while playing a gritty New York street cop in Angel Eyes was hard to take, and the trailer for Enough consistently gets laughs when, after showing scenes depicting the film as a thriller, we're told that it features the new song "Alive" from the album J to tha L-O! You want to shout back, "J to tha N-O!"

And it's not like Enough is anything but a predictable thriller, given that all its trailers and TV spots neatly synopsize the entire movie, drawing heavily on footage from the film's final third, including scenes a critic would normally be castigated for revealing. The only thing surprising whatsoever about the movie is that it doesn't star Ashley Judd, who's become a one-woman factory for such wife-in-jeopardy high jinks.

Yet it's hard to hate the film. Even though it pushes all the familiar buttons, it does them well enough to make its target audience clap. Movies like this are the equivalent of Schwarzenegger flicks (except those directed by James Cameron) for ladies: predictable escapist fare that provides a temporary rush of empowerment.

A few preposterous conceits must be bought into for the movie to work (sorta like when Schwarzenegger plays a natural-born American). First, you accept that Lopez, she of the booty-ful behind, plays a character named Slim. Second, you accept that she falls for a complete psychopath (ex-Rocketeer Billy Campbell, who looks like a younger Alan Thicke, which is warning enough) without getting any hint of his true personality beforehand. You also must accept that even though she's that stupid or naive, she can suddenly become a master of identity change on her own after she figures things out, and that her husband is apparently in league with every major law enforcement official in America. All of whom are as psychotic as he. Later, you have to accept that unlimited funds become available to Slim, thanks to her estranged father (Fred Ward, unnaturally bronzed), who inexplicably has a change of heart.

Long before we get to the realization that, as the tagline suggests, "self-defense isn't murder," however, we have to go through the entire courtship process, then marriage, then abuse, then flight, and so forth, as seen in the preview. Director Apted, best known for Coal Miner's Daughter and stellar documentaries 7 Up, Incident at Oglala and Me and Isaac Newton, makes the strange choice of inserting scene headings throughout the film's first half, à la TV's Frasier, with headings such as: "hey"; "how they met"; "to have and to hold"; and "conquering hero." It's a choice that adds nothing to the film, except perhaps to make it easier to decide upon chapter divisions when making the DVD.

As you may suspect by now, you probably saw this film the last time around, when it was called Sleeping with the Enemy. This one merely adds a better car chase and more ass-kicking, plus a dubious interpretation of U.S. law in the mode of Double Jeopardy, which posited that Ashley Judd could legally murder her husband if she'd already done the time. Self-defense may not be murder, but stalking someone and breaking into his house with the intent of beating him to death is not exactly legal. Then again, if said homeowner is a master of evil with agents everywhere, it's fully justifiable under movie-vengeance rules.

But come on, how can you hate a movie that features the line "Hey, Mom, the elephants are peeing"? It's been easy to despise Lopez lately, but for a diva she does appear to be trying to dress down this time, donning some ugly wigs and making her real hair look ratty in some scenes. Noah Wyle also acquits himself well in a downright ludicrous role that's in keeping with the overall bombast of the movie. And cinematographer Rogier Stoffers (Quills) gives the whole thing a unique look, full of odd framings and shadows.

If this type of movie is for you, you pretty much know it without having to read reviews. Those of you who are on the fence, be advised that having someone drag you along at least won't be torturous.

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Luke Y. Thompson