[box cover]


In Joel Schumacher's 1999 Flawless — a title that almost dares critics to hate the movie — the writer/director tries to play it safe — or at least as safe as any film which centers around a flamboyant transvestite can be said to be. Everything here seems specifically constructed to avoid friction, and it's the movie's single biggest problem: everything has been so homogenized that what could have been a fascinating film comes out as a cinematic vanilla pudding, lacking any sort of flavor whatsoever. Walter Koonz (Robert De Niro) is a cranky ex-cop and raging homophobe who finds himself partially paralyzed and unable to speak after suffering a stroke. Embarrassed by his condition, Koonz begins taking voice lessons from Rusty Zimmerman (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a local transvestite who adheres to every gay stereotype and cliché imaginable. You'll no doubt be shocked to learn that as they grow closer, they form a deep bond. Flawless desperately wants to be The Odd Couple, and there are moments in which it comes close. Both De Niro and Hoffman are engaging actors, with Hoffman's bubbling screen persona serving as an effective counterpoint to De Niro's gruff demeanor. They each have a firm handle on two very challenging characters and they work well together. But sadly, the performances are all this film has going for it. The few sparks of fire De Niro and Hoffman are able to inject into the story are quickly extinguished by Schumacher's adherence to the lowest common denominator, such as the laughable finale, countless gay stereotypes, and unimaginative plot twists (Stolen drug money? Yawn). Maybe next time, Joel. Solid transfer (1.85:1), DD 5.1. Trailer, keep-case.
—Joe Barlow

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