Snakes and Ladders

on September 08, 1996 by Kevin Courrier
   Much ado about nothing, "Snakes and Ladders" is the kind of bad movie that isn't trying to say anything, therefore it just ambles along innocuously. With this film, moviegoers just mark time, which luckily isn't long.
   Jean (Pom Boyd) and Kate (Gina Moxley), roommates in Dublin, are also street performers. Their mettle as friends and performers is tested when Jean's hangdog boyfriend (Sean Hughes) asks her to marry him. Everything goes awry when Jean panics, has an affair, and gets a job on TV, while the boyfriend stews, gets Jean pregnant after a drunken one-night stand, and eventually makes his way back to Jean. And that's about all there is to it.
   Director Trish McAdam seems to be aiming for an amiable farce about the trials of romance between women who are close friends as well as artistic competitors. But she doesn't develop the heat that their competitiveness could generate. Her temperament won't allow her to just let the fur fly; she wants us to feel cozy with these two women, which wipes out any potential tension that could inspire any interest in them. (Even their music act is played for cuteness.) With McAdam flattening the drama as if it were a made-for-TV picture, the actors look like they're trying out for a sitcom. And none of the actors do anything that you probably haven't seen on an episode of "Friends." McAdam knows how to tell a story but she doesn't yet know how to develop one. In that vein, "Snakes and Ladders" is a romantic comedy without a romantic impulse--or even a comic spark. Starring Pom Boyd, Gina Moxley and Sean Hughes. Directed and written by Trish McAdam. Produced by Lilyan and Chris Sievernich. Drama. A Miramax release. Not yet rated. Running time: 92 min. Screened at the Sundance fest.
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