on October 22, 1999 by Francesca Dinglasan
   The usually engaging Elisabeth Shue ("Leaving Las Vegas") takes an awkward and embarrassing turn in "Molly," the latest in a long line of pics ("Rain Man," "Awakenings," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "The Other Sister") attempting to demonstrate how developmentally challenged individuals have much to teach others about appreciating the simpler things in life.
   Shue's Molly is an autistic woman who is forced to live with her reluctant brother Buck ("Your Friends and Neighbors'" Aaron Eckhart) when the mental ward that has cared for her loses its funding. This arrangement wreaks havoc on Buck's life because of his inability to control her unpredictable behavior. A solution presents itself when Molly's doctor (Jill Hennessy) offers to perform an experimental operation on her patient's brain. Apparently successful, the operation frees Molly from the limitations of her autism and allows her to experience the delights of "normal life," such as flirting outrageously with her longtime friend Sam (Thomas Jane). Molly's passion to learn, her above-average intelligence and her sweet nature touch all those around her, including the brother who had been ashamed of her for many years.
   In spite of its lofty goal to remind the masses that the disabled are human beings with feelings just like everyone else, "Molly" abounds with cliches about the very people it purports to represent, making it even more painful to watch Shue's grossly overacted take on autism. From attempting to liberate lobsters destined for the dinner plate at a fancy restaurant to a suggestion she makes to her brother that they have sex (all played with innocent naivete, of course), the scenes in which Molly is supposed to warm one's heart instead turn one's stomach.    Starring Elisabeth Shue, Aaron Eckhart, Jill Hennessy, Thomas Jane and D.W. Moffett. Directed by John Duigan. Written by Dick Christie. Produced by William J. MacDonald and Frank Bodo. An MGM release. Drama/Comedy. Rated PG-13 for mild thematic elements and some sex-related material. Running time: 89 min.
Tags: tarring Elisabeth Shue, Aaron Eckhart, Jill Hennessy, Thomas Jane and D.W. Moffett. Directed by John Duigan, Written by Dick Christie, Produced by William J. MacDonald, Frank Bodo, MGM, Drama, Comedy

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