By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
The film is too long, uneven, and unfocused to add up to much. It looks the way Boyle's prose sounds: vigorous, colorful, and unapologetically profane. But it doesn't have the same magical conviction, the kind of faith in its own demented voice that can carry you over the bumps of social significance and into something like bliss. The last 20 minutes are so hastily slapped together that they feel desperate and pathetic. (In fairness, they're transcribed directly from Boyle, who had no idea how to end this messy story either.)
But the film's willingness to rub our noses in some of the most delightfully excremental comedy to come down the pike in ages is perversely refreshing. You have to wade through lots of misguided and dull stuff to get to the hilarity, but when it comes, it's brilliant--like the scene when Will Lightbody returns to the sanitarium after a Christmas night of binging on booze and home cooking, looking both nauseous and deliriously happy. Dr. Kellogg, dressed like Kris Kringle, gets in his face, bellowing reprimands, trying to shame him into toeing his gastronomic line, and Will, unable to contain himself, leans forward and pukes all over the good doctor's white cotton beard.
"Why, Mr. Lightbody," exclaims Dr. Kellogg, looking at the mess, sniffing the air, and never changing his expression. "I smell pickles...and relish!"
The Road to Wellville. Columbia Pictures. Matthew Broderick, Bridget Fonda, Anthony Hopkins, John Cusack. Written by Alan Parker, from T. Coraghessen Boyle's novel. Directed by Alan Parker. Now showing.
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