Taking Stock

The thoroughly unlikable heroine of Stephen Herek's cautionary comedy about striving and satisfaction is a vain, actressy TV blonde (vain, actressy Angelina Jolie) whose driving ambition is to move up from Seattle's inane morning news-and-talk show to a major network's inane morning news-and-talk show. But first, a typical Hollywood curveball. A ragged street-corner prophet (Tony Shalhoub) tells her she's going to die Thursday, and this ambitious jerk has to reassess her values en route to redemption. The best thing about Life--although it comes and goes--is its dead-on satire of TV-world idiocy. Like Faye Dunaway's driven executive in Network, or the spray-painted airhead on your local newscast, Lanie Kerrigan is the boob-tube incarnate--shallow, self-absorbed, mercenary--and the moviemakers savage her and her scene with unmitigated glee. The movie's fine (and funny) when skewering her and her medium, but its warning about superficiality is itself endlessly superficial.


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