The In Crowd

on July 21, 2000 by Tim Cogshell
   Director Mary Lambert's most notable previous film is "Siesta" (1987), and it's only notable because of its interesting cast --Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Isabella Rossellini, Martin Sheen, Grace Jones and Jodie Foster--though how she managed to make such a mess with a cast like that might be considered notable as well. Still, compared to "The In Crowd," "Siesta" will likely remain her most distinguished film for some time to come.

   "The In Crowd" is a clunky, feckless thriller that begins in a sanitarium. Adrien ("The Newton Boys'" Lori Heuring), the smirky protagonist, is all cleavage and crooked, devious smiles. She's been stashed away after a bout with erotomaina, which is the medical term for advanced sluttiness. Her doctor gets her released from the nuthouse to work at a posh country club where the children of the rich-and-richer yacht, play tennis and party far too much for it to really be any fun. These are the sort of people who bet their girlfriends on games of pool because a few thousand bucks just isn't worth the effort. Among them are all the clichés of upper-crust society: the tramp, the druggie, the booze hound, the good guy and, of course, the bitch, Brittany Foster, played by Susan Ward with daytime soap-diva authority. It's Brittany who draws Lori into the inner-circle of the group with a combination of homoerotic leers, semi-genuine gestures of goodwill and sinister ulterior motives: It seems that

   Lori is the spitting image of Brittany's older sister, who apparently left the cloistered confines of the hoity-toity in protest some time ago.

   Screenwriters Mark Gibson and Philip Halprin's script is as smirky as its psycho protagonist. It seems to think it knows something we don't, which makes it just as obnoxious as the over-privileged, over-sexed, over-boozed world of beautiful people it deigns to let us in on. Ironically, everything in this languidly paced thrill-less movie is just too obvious. The characters and storyline are so banal that even the sexy bits are no fun. A better title might have been "The Been-There-Done-That Crowd."    Starring Susan Ward, Lori Heuring, Matthew Settle, Ethan Erickson, Nathan Bexton, Kim Murphy, Laurie Fortier, Katharine Towne, Daniel Hugh Kelly and Tess Harper. Directed by Mary Lambert. Written by Mark Gibson and Philip Halprin. Produced by James Robinson. A Warner Bros. release. Thriller. Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, language and drug content. Running time: 103 min.

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