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Another Day in Paradise

Released: 1998

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 39 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Larry Clark

Starring: James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Vincent Kartheiser, Natasha Gregson Wagner, James Otis, Branden Williams, Brent Briscoe

A film directed by Larry Clark, and based on the novel Another Day in Paradise written by Eddie Little.

Bullets would have been superfluous.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 8 years ago

James Woods, perhaps Hollywood's best relief pitcher, saves yet another otherwise mediocre movie in ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. With his mesmerizing blend of incendiary emotions and fascinating charisma, Woods adds a dazzling spark of life to any project he undertakes.

Director Larry Clark, whose first movie was the highly controversial KIDS, directs his second, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, as an updated and less romanticized road picture a la BONNIE AND CLYDE. With large doses of realistic gore and with one heroin induced high after another, the film likes to push the cinematic envelope as far as possible while avoiding the dreaded NC-17 rating, which it probably deserves.

Vincent Kartheiser plays a drug addict and lowlife hood named Bobbie. When we first meet Bobbie, he is high on speed. In a rage, he is cracking open vending machines with a big screwdriver, which, when he is caught, he uses to impale the guard through the heart.

As Bobbie's girlfriend, Rosie, Natasha Gregson Wagner spends most of the movie whining and cooing and asking him to get high with her and come to bed. Wagner, who has the most underwritten role, does little visible acting.

After the vending machine debacle, "Uncle" Mel (James Woods) comes to administer some heroin to Bobbie to help him with his sore ribs and other ailments. In return, he proposes that Bobbie join him in a life of big-time crime.

Mel owns a big, shiny black Cadillac, the land yacht of choice from the time when the story is set, the early 1970s. A proud member of the criminal fast lane, Mel thinks he is invincible and, hence, has much to teach up-and-coming crooks like Bobbie.

Melanie Griffith plays Mel's girlfriend, Sid, whose heavy makeup and expensive but tacky clothes still don't hide the thick aging lines in her face. Besides wanting to look a decade younger than her age, Sid pines for a baby. Mel, of course, being a serious, career professional, pooh-poohs Sid's desire for family bliss.

Most of the movie has these two Bonnie and Clyde couples -- the veterans and the apprentices -- engaging in a variety of crimes. Almost like commercial breaks, we cut to episodes of them shooting up heroin outside of and during work hours. If heroin were legal, these might be confused with paid product placements.

The predictable script by Stephen Chin and Christopher B. Landon, based on the book by Eddie Little, telegraphs most of its punches. If a job looks too easy, you can be sure it will go awry and in the obvious way.

The enjoyment of the picture comes back to James Woods's compelling acting. In one delicious scene, Mel sells drugs to two California "surfer dudes," who try to bargain down the price. Bad idea. Drawing two six-guns, Western-style from their hidden place between the sofa cushions, he almost scares the kids to death. Bullets would have been superfluous.

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE skirts various movie genres (including crime drama, comedy, character study and drug abuse) without ever developing any of them with enough depth to allow them to gel. What we are left with is another wonderful performance by James Woods and little more.

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE runs 1:39. It is rated R for pervasive heroin and other drug abuse, strong violence, profanity, sex, and nudity and would be questionable for anyone less than college age.