Death Becomes Her

Death Becomes Her follows friends/rivals Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) and Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) as their lifelong feud escalates after they both ingest an immortality potion, with the narrative detailing the violent battle that ensues between the pair and the impact it has on the man (Bruce Willis’ Ernest Menville) caught in the middle. It’s a decidedly larger-than-life premise that’s employed to watchable yet consistently erratic effect by Robert Zemeckis, as the movie, written by David Koepp and Martin Donovan, contains an uneven structure that generally alternates between almost unreasonable freneticism and talky, stage-play-like shenanigans. (In terms of the latter, there’s a long stretch that seems to transpire entirely within the expansive foyer of an enormous mansion.) Zemeckis’ penchant for over-the-top instances of special effects remains an integral piece of Death Becomes Her‘s mild success, certainly, while the entertainingly broad performances prove effective, for the most part, at smoothing over the movie’s periodic lulls. (And as good as Streep and Hawn are here, Willis’ frequently hilarious turn as the frazzled Ernest confirms his place as the film’s M.V.P.) The impressively dark conclusion ensures that the movie ends on a somewhat memorable note, although Death Becomes Her is, by and large, one of the least engaging endeavors contained within Zemeckis’ early filmography.

**1/2 out of ****

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