Waking Up in Reno (2001)

WakingUpInRenoFor a film with such a great cast like Natasha Richardson, Patrick Swayze, Charlize Theron, and Billy Bob Thornton, it’s hard to believe this is such a bad film. The great cast manages to make due with the horrible script and directing including Theron and Richardson who are great as best friends who discover one another and their personalities. What’s worse is this is not just a bad film but a bad comedy and what makes it a bad comedy is that the script and antics performed by the actors force no laughs from the audience and basically will leave the audience with a stone cold face.

The script is dead on arrival and never brings any real authentic laughs to the film, and its sad because there is so much talent in this film. What bogs down the film’s comedy is the cliché characters present in the film. The characters are so paper thin and look more like caricatures than actual people you can relate to. Billy Bob Thornton and Patrick Swayze (who have hillbilly names) are your usual Texan Monster Trucker white trash characters who wear cowboy hats and guzzle beer like it’s water, and the Theron and Richardson characters are your usual Texan yuppie wives who take pictures for anything and everything, give their husbands pet names, and marvel at a tacky hotel room.

I didn’t like any character from this film so it became difficult to sympathize or even laugh at their antics which are attempted at humorous but are just plain mean spirited and unfunny. You can see the desperation in the actor’s eyes as they attempt to make due from this long winded and trite script. The director and writers become so desperate that they tend to sometimes rely obvious sight gags that have been re-used in other comedies. Penelope Cruz has a basically thankless and tacked on role as a hooker who tends to take a liking to Swayze’s character, but considering her acting skills, it’s not much of a problem.

The film is so tacky, and the scenery is so colorful and gaudy; it’s odd how the filmmaker manages to make Atlantic city look so pedestrian and plain. The entire movie has completely unrealistic, pointless, and annoying situations that hold up the story but are meant to be humorous like the scene where Thornton’s character attempts to eat a large steak, and when Richardson’s character attends a Tony Orlando concert. I tried hard to involve myself in this film, but it simply reaches the point of no return. This is a bad and simply unfunny film with such a great cast but bombs big time in part of writing and run of the mill directing.