February 3, 1995 in Seven

`Boys On The Side’ Delivers Laughter And Tears Straight Up

Michael Rechtshaffen The Hollywood Reporter
 

Hollywood has wasted little time ushering in the first great movie of 1995.

Generating an irresistible blend of laughter and tears, “Boys on the Side” is virtually a can’t-miss prospect. In pitch-speak, the Herbert Ross picture is “Thelma and Louise” meets “Terms of Endearment.”

Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker and a pleasantly surprising Drew Barrymore are in peak form as three very different women who are brought together by a desire to leave their pasts behind.

Jane (Goldberg) is a frustrated club singer intent on leaving New York for a shot at Los Angeles. She hitches a ride with Robin (Parker), a perpetually perky real estate agent who’s making a nostalgic trek to her childhood home. Along the way they pay a visit to Jane’s wild friend Holly (Barrymore), who impulsively joins them in order to get away from her tripped-out, abusive boyfriend.

But the joyride hits a few early roadblocks as it’s revealed that one of the passengers has a life-threatening illness, another is pregnant and has become a fugitive from justice and the third is a lesbian who is harboring secret desires for one of the other two.

Screenwriter Don Roos (“Single White Female”) has tailored a richly textured script that is strongly character driven, sensitive and plainout funny.

Ross, meanwhile, has turned out his best effort in years, directing every scene with a deftly delicate touch. His 25th feature ranks right up there with “The Turning Point” and “The Goodbye Girl,” and his expert cast, knowing a good thing when they see it, couldn’t be better.

Goldberg and Parker are terrific, while Barrymore has blossomed into the kind of playful-naughty, lightcomedic actress that Madonna so desperately wants to become. Also memorable is Anita Gillette, as Parker’s conservative mother, and Matthew McConaughey, as a straight-arrow policeman who goes by the name of Abe Lincoln.

On the technical side, production values are all top drawer. Composer David Newman has contributed a respectfully understated score, but the real icing on the cake is the accompanying song list featuring smartly chosen selections from Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, Cranberries, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge and Toni Childs, among many others. The Arista soundtrack album should be a brisk seller.

MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with this story: “Boys on the Side” Location: Lincoln Heights, Lyons and Coeur d’Alene cinemas. Cast: Directed by Herbert Ross, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, Drew Barrymore, Matthew McConaughey, James Remar, Billy Wirth, Anita Gillette Running time: 117 minutes Rated R

This is the second sidebar that appeared with this story: “Other views.” Michael Wilmington/Chicago Tribune: In “Boys on the Side,” three fine actresses hit the road through three cities and find nothing but attractive, hyperactive big-movie cliches. It’s a tough fight; the actresses put up quite a battle. And it’s a shame if they’re eventually beaten or stalemated.

Michael H. Price/Fort Worth Star-Telegram: It’s a tear-jerker of the first order, a triple-strength dose of epsom schmaltz with enough sugar-coating in the comedy department to make it palatable.

Dolores Barclay/Associated Press: There’s something strangely endearing about “Boys on the Side.” Perhaps it’s the basic humanity woven into the movie’s story, or the boundless optimism at its very heart. Whatever the reason, Herbert Ross’ film is a refreshingly funny, poignant portrait of friendship and endless possibilities. It’s a movie that will enchant you from start to finish, despite its quest to cram in as many issues as possible.

Two sidebars appeared with this story: “Boys on the Side” Location: Lincoln Heights, Lyons and Coeur d’Alene cinemas. Cast: Directed by Herbert Ross, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, Drew Barrymore, Matthew McConaughey, James Remar, Billy Wirth, Anita Gillette Running time: 117 minutes Rated R

This is the second sidebar that appeared with this story: “Other views.” Michael Wilmington/Chicago Tribune: In “Boys on the Side,” three fine actresses hit the road through three cities and find nothing but attractive, hyperactive big-movie cliches. It’s a tough fight; the actresses put up quite a battle. And it’s a shame if they’re eventually beaten or stalemated.

Michael H. Price/Fort Worth Star-Telegram: It’s a tear-jerker of the first order, a triple-strength dose of epsom schmaltz with enough sugar-coating in the comedy department to make it palatable.

Dolores Barclay/Associated Press: There’s something strangely endearing about “Boys on the Side.” Perhaps it’s the basic humanity woven into the movie’s story, or the boundless optimism at its very heart. Whatever the reason, Herbert Ross’ film is a refreshingly funny, poignant portrait of friendship and endless possibilities. It’s a movie that will enchant you from start to finish, despite its quest to cram in as many issues as possible.


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