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Organ Grinder: Andie MacDowell falls for a young musician in 'Crush.'

Hot for Teacher

Andie MacDowell crushes the life out of decayed chick flick 'Crush'

By Richard von Busack

TO A MAN with a life-long interest in women, it seems paradoxical that the chick flick should be so devoid of interest. Most women work so hard in a man's world that they don't have time to obsess over men the way women do in a chick flick. Men are flattered by the notion that women do nothing but fret over men's attention, and in that respect it's no surprise that men are behind so many of these opuses, from David E. Kelley, who created poor dithering Ally McBeal, to John McKay, who directed the English import Crush.

In the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, a summery part of England, lives a far-from-divine sisterhood of middle-aged women: a police captain, Janine (Imelda Staunton); a private-school headmistress, Kate (Andie MacDowell); and a castrating stork of an ob-gyn, Molly (Anna Chancellor). At the funeral for a colleague, Kate encounters a young working-class church organist, Jed (Kenny Doughty), who turns out to be a former pupil of hers. The two hustle off for a quick one, and Kate soon finds herself obsessed with him.

Jed proposes to Kate, and she accepts. Janine and Molly are scandalized and jealous--"Have you been parading about with this pubescent?" Molly snipes. That's about as close to Noel Coward--or even Sex and the City--as the dialogue gets. The film's been fluff, but now it turns nonsensical. It's clear that Kate's friends and Jed's friends know about the engagement, but Kate fears that the news will leak out to the town. To prove that the match is unsuitable, Molly decides to try to seduce Jed while Janine films it all on tape. Fortunately, Jed's out of the picture soon, due to a stroke of fate, and if you can't imagine what happens next, you weren't paying attention when the women were complaining about how they wanted a baby.

MacDowell is one of the biggest bores in cinema right now. I know she's a great clotheshorse, but is this enough to make her a star? MacDowell always plays a mommy or a woman thwarted in her efforts to be a mommy (as she did even as far back as Groundhog Day). Like Meg Ryan or Calista Flockhart, she's almost always waiting for a man, whereas Sigourney Weaver, Sandra Bullock or Julianne Moore have no worries in that department and thus are all unfit for the tiresome antics of a chick flick.

Crush (R; 111 min.), directed and written by John McKay, photographed by Henry Braham and starring Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor and Kenny Doughty, opens Friday the Nickelodeon in Santa Cruz.

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From the May 1-8, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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