Leaving Normal

1992, R, 110 min. Directed by Edward Zwick. Starring Christine Lahti, Meg Tilly, Lenny Von Dohlen, Patrika Darbo.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., June 5, 1992

What interest was generated by the presence of Lahti and Tilly is tempered by this film's ingratiating ways. It practically crawls into our laps and licks our faces. Lahti and Tilly play two women on the run from their past mistakes like Thelma and Louise the weekend before everything went wrong. It's a surprise, but Lahti gets annoying in her role as tough mama. Tilly has more luck with the comedic possibilities of her waif who has a limited sense of humor but a boundless capacity for a broken heart. That they're headed for Alaska makes sense when you think of how so many movies these days seem to draw on television for their inspiration rather than the other way around. So it's a natural that Zwick, co-creator of thirtysomething, would make a movie that hopes to feed off the success of Northern Exposure as well as Thelma & Louise. For a movie that promises to offend no one while offering little but a few laughs and a few twinkly moments, there are some funny bits and some genuine laughs, but you can feel the cynicism at the core of this film. I honestly tried not to be so hard-bitten. I alternated between impatience and then being charmed, but impatience won out when it finally became clear that the sole point of this film was to cater to the perceived desires of a female audience. It's so dishonest: Lahti and Tilly don't leave Normal (the town in which they first meet) at all. What they're headed for is still domestic bliss, even though outward appearances may make it seem like something different. I'm not really surprised that the filmmakers thought we'd fall for it. We've fallen for a few good lines and good looks before, only to find out that it's the same old thing. But we're all smarter than that now. Aren't we?

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Leaving Normal, Edward Zwick, Christine Lahti, Meg Tilly, Lenny Von Dohlen, Patrika Darbo

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