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All Revved Up (April 7/02)

All Revved Up is a perfectly example of everything not to do when making a movie. Nothing works here - not the acting, not the direction, and definitely not the nonsensical, utterly pointless screenplay. The worst part, though, has got to be the fact that this isn't a pretentious, low-budget student film. This is a real movie, with otherwise excellent actors - Lili Taylor, John Turturro, and Will Patton. Now, you're probably saying to yourself, "hey, if it's got that trio of awesome actors, how bad could it be?" Bad. Really, really bad.

The plot of the movie manages to be both simple and ludicrously complicated at the same time. Taylor stars as a schoolteacher who, as the movie opens, finds herself stranded at the side of a busy expressway. Her car's broken down, so she gets it towed to the OK Garage (which, incidentally, is the original title of this film). There, she finds it's going to cost her $400 to get the problem fixed - but, of course, it's not quite that simple. Meanwhile, Patton pops up as a loopy friend of Taylor's (how do we know he's loopy? He's taken to carrying around live lizards with him. This is the sort of thing the movie mistakes for quirkiness). Finally, Turturro appears as a friend of Patton's - an aimless man with a crush on a married bank teller. The three finally come together in the last 10 minutes of the movie to take revenge on the crooked owners of the OK Garage.

It really is astounding how thoroughly and completely All Revved Up sucks. Perhaps it looked better on paper, because how else do you explain the presence of Taylor, Patton, and Turturro? From the stilted dialogue to the lifeless direction to the pointless storyline, everything touched by this movie dies. It's not surprising that the same person who wrote All Revved Up also directed it, because no self-respecting director would have touched the script with a 10-foot-pole.

So, what is so disagreeable about this movie? Everything. The so-called clever dialogue comes off as forced and stagy. There's no narrative thrust to keep the viewer interested (apparently, we're supposed to find these idiotic characters so charming and offbeat that their very being should keep us engaged). And, as if it wasn't bad enough that the movie is infested with these incomprehensibly dull people, the story just starts. We get no backstory on any of these folks or even a reason for their bizarre antics; no, instead we're dropped smack dab into a couple of days of their mind-numbingly boring lives and expected to enjoy the film as an eccentric slice-of-life tale. It doesn't work. Nothing works here. Those three talented actors can't do a single thing with their vastly underwritten characters, which only proves that even the best of actors can't elevate shoddy writing.

All Revved Up is horrible, plain and simple. Avoid it at all costs, even if you've got to watch a three-hour Celine Dion concert or plunge nails into your thighs.

zero out of