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The Road to Wellville

Directed by Alan Parker. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, Dana Carvey. (1994, R, 119 min.)

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 4, 1994

Simply execrable, or just plain shitty? Parker's take on T. Coraghessan Boyle's novel about cereal magnate and health food guru Kellogg is a muddled mess of boorish scatological jokes and preachy asides that goes nowhere, does nothing, and ultimately dies a grim, humorless death. Broderick and Fonda are a husband-and-wife couple who wish to restore their health via a week-long stay at Kellogg's (Hopkins) turn-of-the-century health retreat. Broderick, it seems, is a sometime alcoholic with a stomach disorder that allows him to eat only toast and water. In reality, he's suffering from the pains of opiate withdrawal, as we learn that his flighty wife has been surreptitiously dosing him with essence de poppy in order to calm his frantic libido. Also present is Cusack as a desperate-to-succeed novice capitalist intent on starting up his own cereal franchise in lovely Battle Creek, Michigan, while being bilked for every cent by his unscrupulous partner. Hopkins, as the pompous crackpot Kellogg (receiving up to five colonic washes per day is one of the less extreme notions he suggests to his clientele) is insanely miscast in the role, swaggering about with vainglorious pride, thick glasses, and a ridiculously over-the-top Midwestern accent. Wellville's plot centers on the commingling of several storylines which results in an entity that, unfortunately, ends up as bland as the vegetarian meals Kellogg serves at his retreat. Everyone here appears desperate to ham it up as much as possible, tossing off grotesque, fecal-oriented one-liners at the drop of an enema bag. Carvey, as Kellogg's half-mad adopted son, acts, half the time, like he's walked into the wrong movie, looking like a peasant extra from an old Monty Python sketch. Rarely do I have the chance to catch a film quite as annoying as this cobbled-together mess. It's enough to give you gas, really.
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