Fatal Beauty (1987)

reviewed by
Jeff Meyer


                                 FATAL BEAUTY
                         A film review by Jeff Meyer
                          Copyright 1987 Jeff Meyer

I try to avoid hyperbole when I review anything, and most of the time, it's pretty easy to do. Most of the films I go to see are fairly close to the median thumbs-up/thumbs-down line, and then a few are memorably good. Most rare, though, are the films that are so bad that I get *angry* that I am sitting and watching the drek. Even worse is seeing a talented script or actor wasted by bumbling direction or a stupid plot. But those are very rare.

They happen, though. I *HATED* FATAL BEAUTY. The term "mindless violence" is a cliche that is used far too often when reviewing action films, but it is totally appropriate here. A undercover narcotics agent tracks down a couple of psychotic thugs passing out quick-killing cocaine. Lots of people get shot. A mall gets destroyed. MTV music in the background. Well, let's see, black comedi{an,enne} + cop + violence + rock music = BEVERLY HILLS COP! Gosh, I love a film where the marketing strategy is almost displayed in the opening credits.

Of course, other films have risen above pedestrian plots. They have good characters. They have a good script. They have good actors. Well, FATAL BEAUTY has a very good actress, but I only know that because I saw THE COLOR PURPLE and JUMPIN' JACK FLASH (where she showed through some pedestrian material). There is not a character in this film that I could *stand*, much less like, much less care about. Goldberg's fellow cops are crude, cruel Neanderthal bumpkins who appear to be there so that Whoopi can one-up them with similar humorless comebacks. Really, this is thirteen-year-old "dirty humor." The plot is transparent. The criminals are crazy, but their familiar psychos. And people change character like an on-off switch. There's a Beverly Hills mother who doesn't care that her kid got arrested and works at playing an incredible bitch for the first time she's on. Then, her son slits his wrists, and, *bang*, concerned mother. Whoopi says, after the mother has supplied the name of the cocaine dealer who gave her the coke she gave her kid, "you're beautiful." Right. Got that. Blech.

Script -- everything was telegraphed at least an hour ahead of time. Acting should be changed to over-acting, even Whoopi -- her tale of why she hunts down drug dealers with such fervor is tacked into the last third to provide her 3 minutes of acting potential, but to no avail; I was so numbed by that time to notice even a glimmer of talent. The clumsiness of the plot dominated everything.

And, of course, the pity is that Whoopi Goldberg can play interesting characters; she can keep a lame script going. She is one of the few actresses who seems to be given heroic action roles. Great! Now could someone **PLEASE** give said role a script that hasn't been produced by some PR research dweeb! But she has to take some of the blame herself; I cannot imagine how a film this bad could look good in script form.

This is, by far and away, the WORST film I have seen this year. Even worse than that Australian horse picture I saw at the festival. I would have walked out, but it was the first part of a double feature.

Oh, the following film *seemed* to be better; but FATAL BEAUTY could make GILLIGAN'S ISLAND look promising in comparison. It was SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME, a 30's style love/thrill story that Ridley Scott has reanimated wonderfully -- he is perhaps the only person alive who can still make New York look glamorous. Good acting, solid script and characters, FANTASTIC music and cinematography. A simple plot with a MAJOR stumbling block of a plot element, something too large to enjoy; but worth $3.

                                        Moriarty, aka Jeff Meyer
INTERNET:     moriarty@tc.fluke.COM
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