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MOVIE REVIEWS IN BRIEF

'Reno' exhausts a mine of cliches

October 25, 2002|Kevin Thomas

The one thing that can be said of "Waking Up in Reno" is that it's rigorously consistent. Every note rings false, for writers Brent Briscoe and Mark Fauser have overlooked no stereotypes or cliches of small-town blue-collar speech, behavior or tastes. Because they have not drawn from life but from a zillion other contemporary middle Americana movies and TV shows, their characters are so many times removed from reality that it is hard to blame director Jordan Brady for relentlessly condescending to their characters and plot. (This picture is way too heavy-handed to pass for satire.)

"Waking Up in Reno" was written by Briscoe and Fauser, scribes on the "Hearts Afire" series in which Billy Bob Thornton starred, in response to his expressed longing to act in a "redneck romantic comedy" -- Thornton's phrase -- that he had never found time to write himself. Apparently it was Thornton's stature that attracted his co-stars.

Anyway, Darlene (Natasha Richardson) and Lonnie Earl Dodd (Thornton), and Candy (Charlize Theron) and Roy Kirkendall (Patrick Swayze), two couples from Arkansas, take off for a monster truck show in Reno. Both marriages are a bit shaky, and the vacation will predictably bring the fissures in the relationships to the surface. "Waking Up in Reno," however, provides no reason to care how it turns out.

"Waking Up in Reno": Rated R for language and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At selected theaters.

*

--Kevin Thomas

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