Heartbreak Hospital

on September 06, 2002 by Tim Cogshell
"Heartbreak Hospital" is the name of a fictional soap opera that's nearly as sappy as the film of the same name that it occupies. It's a dumb and pointless movie, all the moreso because so many films of the same ilk have already been made: "Soap Dish," "Nurse Betty" and even "Tootsie."

Young aspiring actress Neely Kendall (Chelsea Altman) is just about ready to pack it in and head to Mexico when she lands a role on a New York-based soap opera. She'll be playing a coma patient, a role that she somehow manages to parlay into celebrity. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, a famous Italian chef (Demian Bichir), is getting jealous because his pasta sauces are not as popular as his comatose girlfriend. Meanwhile, back at the pretend hospital, the cast is horn-dogging and back-stabbing all over the place. The leading man (well-worked character actor John Shea) is all over Neely, while the leading lady (Diane Venora) has the hots for Neely's boyfriend. It's all insanely trite. For added potential--though unrealized--hilarity, Neely's neighbor (the excellent Patricia Clarkson of "The Pledge" and "High Art"), a fan of the show, thinks that everything about it is real, though one is never sure why. Everything eventually spins wildy out of control, but never really gets funny.

There is no possibility that anything of any import can happen here. Even the inventively dark "Nurse Betty," held steady by the ubiquitously Socratic Morgan Freeman, only approaches profundity. This is just silly, which means it needs to be funny, which it isn't. Starring Chelsea Altman, Patricia Clarkson, Demian Bichir, Diane Venora, John Shea and Howard Spiegel. Directed by Ruedi Gerber. Written by Ruedi Gerber and Henry Slesar. Produced by Ram Bergman, Ruedi Gerber, Dana Lustig and Lemore Syvan. A 7th Art release. Comedy. Unrated. Running time: 91 min.

Tags: Chelsea Altman, Patricia Clarkson, Demian Bichir, Diane Venora, John Shea, Howard Spiegel, Directed by Ruedi Gerber, Written by Ruedi Gerber, Henry Slesar, Produced by Ram Bergman, Ruedi Gerber, Dana Lustig, Lemore Syvan, A 7th Art release, Comedy, Italian, fictional, soap opera, coma, celebrity

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