84: Nurse Betty

Nurse Betty – September 8, 2000
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Aaron Eckhart
Written by: John C. Richards, James Flamberg
Directed by: Neil LaBute

The plot: “Comedy about a widow’s post-traumatic obsession with a soap star.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Nurse Betty was…okay. Truly, it was just okay. There weren’t really any highlights nor any lowlights. I guess the closest thing to highlights would be Chris Rock, Allison Janney, and Crispin Glover. To me, Chris Rock is one of the best things in life. I watch Dogma twice a year for him, Alan Rickman, and Jason Mewes. And Allison Janney is Allison Janney and she doesn’t have enough screen time for any sane person’s satisfaction.

Nurse Betty follows Renee “Sour Face” Zellweger from Kansas (yes, very obvious Wizard of Oz reference) all the way to dazzling Los Angeles, California. In Kansas, her asshole husband (Eckhart) is scalped and killed (it’s all very comedic, fear not) by Rock and Freeman while Zellweger looks on, unseen and unknown. A soap opera plays in the background and in some weird post-tramautic daze, she becomes delusional that she is one of character’s (Kinnear) ex-fiancees and she has to win him back. And so begins our tale.

The issue is, the movie reads like a wanna-be Quentin Tarantino or Coen brothers flick – maybe a hybrid of the two. It’s this messy, zany, sort of off-the-wall dark comedy with quirky characters with lots of references and light action sequences. The thing is, LaBute and the team behind Nurse Betty just don’t pull it off as well as the people they’re so obviously drawing from.

Everyone is pretty good in his or her roles and the chemistry is fine. However, and I might get destroyed online because of this, I rarely care for Morgan Freeman in any of his roles because he’s just always Morgan Freeman. Plus, the dynamic between his character and Zellweger’s Betty manages to be completely unbelievable in an already unbelievable movie. I can buy most of the absurdity in the film, but Freeman’s character seems so weird and forced that it just kind of killed it for me.

It had its entertaining moments but all in all, it just fell kind of flat for me. The supporting characters stood out more to me and I think the script could have benefited from a re-write or consultation from someone who does the style better.

Stars: 2.5/5

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