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Waking Up In Reno (2002)   rating

Review: written 2008

Woefully devoid of laughs or drama

 Waking Up In Reno (2002)

Labelled a `sleeper' and hidden gem, this is anything but - unless they were referring to a tendency to sleep through the movie..

A sizzling cast are completely squandered in one of those `what were they thinking of?' movies.

Patrick Swayze plays a dim-witted husband to Charlize Theron, and as the movie starts they are about to go on vacation to Reno with their best friends, used car salesman Billy Bob Thornton and his wife Natasha Richardson. However, much supposed `hilarity' ensues as it all goes wrong, not least because Billy Bob has been sleeping with Theron - how hilarious! Thornton plays a thoroughly unlikeable used car salesman so convincingly we just don't feel any of the sympathy we are supposed to feel for him at his wife’s aloofness, Richardson makes the only discernible character arc as she loses the dungarees and frumpy look at the end to reveal the 'new her' (yawn), and Theron plays the confused sexpot figuring out if she did the right thing getting married to an idiot. By the end you'll be convinced she didn't, but the movie would have you think otherwise. There is not a sympathetic character among them except perhaps for Swayze's character, who could be sympathetic if he was not played so dumb that we just don't care any more by about half way through. Perhaps there is some satire going on here, revealing this trashy side to the American dream.. but if that's what it is, the message is very confused. It seems to be saying - "Hey, has your husband gone and cheated on you? Well throw a tantrum then make up because it was all your own fault for not giving him enough sex" - very dubious.

Needless to say, they reach Reno, much shouting, revelations and would-be side-splitting antics follow as all is revealed and we wonder who will forgive who.

How such a cast ended up in this empty farce I can't imagine... Hey, if all you want to see is Theron in her undies - go right ahead, but don't go looking for depth or substance, or even a few guilty laughs... this turkey is devoid of all of those.

 Waking Up In Reno (2002)

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