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There's Message in 'Born Yesterday' : It Has to Do With Dumb as Skin-Deep

April 15, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section.

In "Born Yesterday," a tycoon (John Goodman) hires a journalist (Don Johnson) to "smarten up" his stereotypical dumb blond girlfriend (Melanie Griffith) while he wheels and deals with Washington lawmakers. (Rated PG)


After 11 years of putting up with whining and tantrums in movie theaters, my daughter Amanda knows me pretty well.

"I don't think you're going to like this one," she said. "You might like the message though. I liked it. John Goodman? He was so mean to his girlfriend. That's why you probably won't like it. But I liked what happened to him in the end."

She liked it enough to choose to watch it over other movies, even though she had already seen it.

For me, the best part was sharing a tub of popcorn with my daughter and hearing her giggle over her favorite parts: the early scenes where the blonde is so dumb, she doesn't know to get out of an airplane when it stops; she eats candy when exercising; she thinks the undersecretary of commerce is like a receptionist.

Or when she goes into a museum and says, "If I knew art smelled this good, I would have come a long time ago."

Other girls at the show also gave the movie a thumbs up, mostly because they thought it was funny and they liked the woman's transformation.

"I like how they made her dumb, then smart," said Candace, 10.

"I like the way she stood up to him," her twin, Crystal, added.

The movie's lesson, Crystal thought, was "like the saying, 'Don't judge a book by its cover.' You could think people are stupid, but they could be smart inside and just never show it."

Becky, 11, said the movie shows how it helps if you learn to read. "At the end, she was really smart and was just holding it in until she learned how to use it," she said.

As for John Goodman, Becky said: "I thought he was good except for the part where he slapped her. I thought that was a little bit violent."

"Did you like it?" Amanda asked me.

"I thought parts of it were funny. I liked John Goodman when he was dancing. You're right. He was very mean. I hated it when he hit her. And I liked what they said that being smart is about asking questions."

Amanda nodded. "That's what I thought."

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