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Enough (May 26/02)

Enough takes a reasonable premise - a battered wife tires of running and decides to fight back - and completely ruins it with an laughably bad screenplay filled to the brim with clichés and absurd situations.

Jennifer Lopez (or J-Lo, if you will) stars as the abused woman who, as the movie opens, is working in a fast food joint as a waitress. Her nickname is "Slim" (is that supposed to be some sort of a response to all the big butt jokes?) and she seems pretty happy. One day, though, she meets Billy Campbell's character - a handsome and supposedly chivalrous guy - and the two instantly fall in love. Flash forward a couple of years, and the two are married with a young daughter. Everything seems just fine and dandy, until the two get into a screaming match that culminates with Campbell slapping J-Lo. After seeing how shocked she is, he casually says "Oh, so I can't do that?" Her response? With a quivering lower lip and on the verge of tears, J-Lo shoots back "no, you can't!" and winds up eating fist courtesy of her previously angelic husband. Soon, he's admitting to multiple affairs and claiming that he has the right to beat her up, since his money pays for their way of life. How he managed to keep this ultra-evil side of his persona hidden for around five years is never explained.

Finally, Lopez decides enough is enough, and goes on the run - but quickly discovers that a man as rich as Campbell has a lot of resources at his fingertips. In one laughably inept sequence, J-Lo has decided to temporarily move in with an old boyfriend - a character who basically appears whenever the script needs him - but wouldn't you know it, Campbell's managed to track her down there, too. There's a knock at the door one afternoon, and the old boyfriend answers the door after spotting some FBI credentials. Obviously, it's not the FBI but rather three hired goons dispatched by Campbell. Though the scene isn't intentionally played for comedic effect, it certainly comes off that way - due in part to the over-the-top presentation of the trio of thugs. The final act finds Lopez engaging the services of a professional trainer for the sole purpose of fighting back (and if you've seen any of the numerous TV spots or the trailer, you know that the two eventually do have a confrontation).

Enough is the sort of film that women with no self-esteem will eat up with a spoon. Characters are either good or evil, and the script moves them around like pieces on a chessboard. Nobody seems to act of their own free will - certainly not Campbell's character, who goes from hero-of-the-day to scum-of-the-earth within a couple of scenes - and the screenplay holds about as many surprises as an episode of Full House. The movie doesn't even bother to stick to its own conventions (lame as they may be), most glaringly in the form of inept title cards that pop up every now and then. These cards tell us exactly what's about to happen ("How They Met" for example), but are dropped completely somewhere around the midway point.

Though Enough does have a nice selection of quirky supporting characters, none of the actors are used to good effect. Noah Wyle, best known for playing Dr. Carter on ER, pops up as a sinister buddy of Campbell's. And while he does seem to be having a good time playing the complete opposite of his ER character, the screenplay never gives him anything more to do than snarl viciously. In fact, in his final scene in the film, he's attempting to run Lopez and her daughter off the road. Now, all right, Campbell would have no problem seeing Lopez brutally murdered, but his own daughter? Also in the cast is venerable character actor Fred Ward, playing Lopez's long lost father Jupiter. Now here is an actor that rarely pops up in mainstream theatrical movies, relegated instead to straight-to-video dreck. He's good here, but again, at the mercy of the idiotic script which forces him to behave the way no father ever would (he initially rejects Lopez, but changes his mind after Campbell's goons accost him).

The most astounding thing about Enough, though, is that it's been directed by Michael Apted - a fairly respectable British filmmaker. Known primarily for his 7 Up series of movies, Apted seems like the last person who would agree to helm such a moronic screenplay. The frustrating thing about Enough is that it's so well made and well acted, that it really could have been something more than it actually is. It's to the credit of Apted and the various actors (particularly Lopez, who's proving more and more that she should abandon her silly singing career and focus on acting) that the movie comes off as entertaining as it does. And though I'll probably lose all credibility for saying this (I had credibility to begin with?), I really did enjoy the final fifteen minutes (featuring the savage beating of Billy Campbell). Maybe that makes me a masochist or something, but that stuff was incredibly entertaining. Too bad everything that came before it had to be as cliched as an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful.

out of

© David Nusair