A Life Less Ordinary

on October 24, 1997 by Melissa Morrison
Damn. The first Hollywood feature by the human hat trick (Boyle-Hodge-MacDonald) that came up with the edgy and hilarious junkie comedy "Trainspotting" doesn't even come close. The plot of "A Life Less Ordinary" is, actually, quite ordinary. Robert (Ewan McGregor), sporting a Bay City Rollers haircut, is fired as a janitor and retaliates by kidnapping the boss's spoiled daughter, Versace-clad Celine (Cameron Diaz, with an unconvincing snarl), who winds up having to give the hapless Robert how-to's. Meanwhile, two angels (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) must make the pair fall in love or face censure from the ultimate Boss. Who'd have thought the 1983 Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta vehicle, "Two of a Kind," and the Alicia Silverstone stinkbomb "Excess Baggage" would be such an influence on these maverick filmmakers?
In fact, a lot of "A Life Less Ordinary" has been done elsewhere, usually to better effect. The surreal elements that intensified "Trainspotting's" story (like the toilet-diving episode) here are jarring--just music video frippery. A karaoke scene ("My Best Friend's Wedding" redux) in a rural bar turns into a '30s-style dance number; hello, Dennis Potter. Bullets fly with comic-book abandon; nods to Quentin T. The most original thing about the movie is Hunter's performance as a fierce angel. The actress seems to occupy an alternative universe than the other actors; she changes her cutie-pie accent with every scene and seems to relish the weirdly violent tactics involved in the angels' strategy to create love out of chaos. It's annoying and then intriguing. As for the lovers, McGregor is pretty funny when he's desperate, and Diaz gets better when she softens up a bit.
Overall, "A Life Less Ordinary" has an ungelled quality that may be more meaningful on the midnight movie circuit. Maybe you have to be fatigued or drunk to appreciate it. Starring Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz and Holly Hunter. Directed by Danny Boyle. Written by John Hodge. Produced by Andrew MacDonald. A Fox release. Romance. Rated R for violence and language. Running time: 104 min.
Tags: Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz, Holly Hunter, Danny Boyle, John Hodge, Andrew MacDonald, Fox, Romance, love story, angels

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