Wednesday, December 2, 1998

Home Fries

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 1998 at 12:00 AM

The prominent role of an ominous, low-flying, black helicopter in this otherwise homespun tale of love, murder and fast food clearly points to the involvement of Vince Gilligan, who wrote this oddball small-town romance before he became one of the masterminds behind "The X-Files."

Directed with quirky charm by Dean Parisot, Home Fries follows the strange, romantic fate of the good-natured, guileless and very pregnant Sally (Drew Barrymore). In the opening, Sally is visited while at the drive-through window of the Burger-Matic by her much older and married lover.

After picking up a vanilla milkshake and attempting to placate the inconsolable Sally, Henry Lever is chased down by the aforementioned helicopter which, unbeknownst to him, is piloted by his stepsons, Angus (Jake Busey) and Dorian (Luke Wilson), on orders from their mother (Catherine O'Hara), who wants to put the fear of God into her philandering husband.

Instead, Henry is literally scared to death.

Gilligan, through a series of contrived circumstances, proceeds to the film's real romance, between the decent, slightly dizzy Dorian and the too-trusting Sally -- with the unlikely but endearing use of Lamaze classes as foreplay. But their biggest hurdle is the very real threat posed by Angus and the vengeful Mrs. Lever.

Home Fries is a model of ideal casting: Each role brings out the best in the performers, even when the part is underwritten. Barrymore is the worldly naïf, Wilson the befuddled protector, and Busey the love-starved aggressor. Best of all is O'Hara, whose passive-aggressive manipulations are downright Machiavellian.

With generous portions of post-post-irony sentimentality, Home Fries is a heaping dose of cinematic comfort food, filling in a satisfyingly familiar way.

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