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Movie review: “Hope Floats”

Harry Connick Jr. and Sandra Bullock star in “Hope Floats.” – Courtesy of IMDB

After turning in the final project for my J-term class, my lady and I decided to enjoy the four-day semester break by watching an inspirational movie together.  I’m more of an action or romantic/action/comedy type guy, but I remembered that wise men say, “Happy Wife – Happy Life!” so I agreed to the movie she suggested.  We’re engaged, so I guess this is practice.  

The Blount County Public Library has movies that members can check out for free.  My lady selected “Hope Floats,” a 1998 release starring Sandra Bullock, an actress we both like. The cover flaunted a quote from an Associated Press review. It said, “Filled with humorous and moving moments that touch the heart.” People Magazine called it, “A feel-good movie you can feel good about liking.”

I believe these reviews might have belonged to a different movie–or whoever wrote those positive sounding reviews skipped most of the movie. There is no humor in the first part of the movie at all, unless you consider watching a parade of people take turns hurting someone to be funny. I don’t know about you, but watching someone being repeatedly battered emotionally does not make me feel good. The only moving thing about the movie for me was pushing the button to turn it off after an hour of watching someone being psychologically tortured.

It’s the story of a small-town prom queen who marries a high school sweetheart, but the relationship doesn’t work out.  She is publicly humiliated when he reveals his infidelity on television. Suffering from serious depression, she returns home to live with her incredibly obnoxious mom.  

That sounds like the foundation of what could be an entertaining and enjoyable story, but the writers seemed to have had other plans.  If I were to rename the main character’s hometown, it would be something like “Jerk-ville”.  Every character is a cliché, mono-dimensional exaggerated stereotype.  Each takes turns relentlessly browbeating, insulting and humiliating the heroine, who also happened to be a jerk in high school.  After about 15-20 minutes of watching people take turns dishing out abusive welcome-homes, the audience got it.  

My lady and I patiently waited for the movie plot to move on to something else.  Something hopeful, funny or feel-good.  We kept waiting for those “moments of humor” it was said to be full of.  But the only viewers who might have laughed at the portions of the movie we had seen would be the type who also put themselves in stitches watching YouTube “fail” videos.  The writers chose to continue the parade of irritating small town negatively-stereotyped jerks without a break for more than an hour.  The constant anger, meanness, hate, envy, jealousy, greed, manipulation, revenge and irritation on and on and on was threatening to ruin our evening.  

We hadn’t seen a hint of hope or humor yet and began feeling worse by the minute.  Perhaps some ray of hope appears right before the credits.  Maybe something positive or funny is written in the last few minutes of the script that might negate all the raw irritation up to this point.  For viewers who endured to the end, I hope so.   

We eventually ran out of hope for this movie.  Unlike the movie’s heroine we were able to escape the constant attacks. We mutually decided to turn it off rather that endure another minute of hate-filled and depressing aggravation.  We turned to each other and had a conversation instead.

I would not recommend this movie to anyone.  The writers invested way too much time and effort into proving how mean people are to each other in this small Texas town. There was very little plot or character development, no drama or unanswered questions other than “who’s going to hurt her next and how.” It quite literally made us uncomfortable.  That’s why we chose to sink “Hope Floats” before it was over by turning it off.

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