Outside Providence

on September 01, 1999 by Wade Major
   What should have been a successful fusion of cutting-edge talent instead turns out to be a dull compromise in "Outside Providence," an unremarkable wad of coming-of-age cliches from the unlikely team of Bobby & Peter Farrelly and Michael Corrente.
   Based on Peter Farrelly's novel of the same name, "Outside Providence" tells the well-worn story of a '70s-era blue collar kid from Rhode Island ("The Faculty's" Shawn Hatosy) whose delinquent activities prompt his widower father (Alex Baldwin) to pack him off to a straight-laced prep school. Once there, he encounters the usual fish-out-of-water challenges (poor grades, friction with teachers and administrators, etc.) before hooking up with a tempting young sprite from the other side of the tracks ("Varsity Blues'" Amy Smart) who introduces him to love while he shows her the time of her life.
   All things considered, "Outside Providence" isn't a terrible film. It's well-made, competently acted, occasionally clever and never really boring. Then again, so were the last three dozen films that covered this territory. The teen audiences currently ruling the boxoffice roost, of course, won't much care how derivative or unoriginal the material may be--it's enough that it's about teenagers and their plight. On the other hand, the abject lack of distinguishing narrative characteristics above and beyond the genre minimum almost certainly spells doom for broader appeal. Even adults harboring nostalgia for their '70s-era teen years will find little to latch onto that hasn't already been played out with less pretense on the television sitcom "That '70s Show."
   The film's greatest disappointment, however, isn't so much the treatment of the subject matter as the failure of what should have been a promising collaboration between co-writers/co-producers Bobby and Peter Farrelly and their fellow Rhode Islander, co-writer/co-producer/director Michael Corrente (Corrente appeared briefly in the Farrellys' "Kingpin"). A more realistic and restrained effort than one might expect from the creators of "There's Something About Mary," "Outside Providence" is also a far more temperate and humanistic story than one would expect from the director of "Federal Hill" and "American Buffalo." Rather than bring out the best of their respective talents, the teaming has pushed Corrente and the Farrellys to meet at a middle-ground where none of them are really comfortable--a mushy center that has neither Corrente's edgy cool nor the Farrellys' spontaneous zaniness.
   On a more positive note, the unceasingly pop tune-bloated soundtrack should help account for enough sales on its own to more than offset any disappointing boxoffice figures.    Starring Shawn Hatosy, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Brandis and Amy Smart. Directed by Michael Corrente. Written by Peter Farrelly, Michael Corrente and Bobby Farrelly. Produced by Michael Corrente, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly and Randy Finch. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated R for pervasive teen drug use and strong language including sexual references. Running time: 103 min.
Tags: No Tags

read all Reviews »


No comments were posted.

What do you think?