" My plan to phase myself out is almost complete. "
— Jim Carrey, Liar Liar

MRQE Top Critic

Beauty and the Beast

Diamond edition adds to a top-notch film —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Beauty and the Beast fall for each other

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Tupac Shakur turned in an excellent final performance. He plays Spoon and Tim Roth plays Stretch, two heroin addicts living in Detroit. The movie opens when their third friend Cookie (Thandie Newton) looks like she’s going to die of an overdose. Spoon and Stretch go through a lot of hassles just to get a doctor to look at Cookie. Cabs won’t stop for two men and an unconscious woman. Ambulances won’t come to the bad part of town where they live. They end up waiting in an oddly-placed phone box for much of the night.

This starts the events of the movie rolling. Spoon realizes that heroin doesn’t feel good anymore. He just uses it to fend off the withdrawal symptoms. While waiting in the hospital to see how Cookie will be, he decides to kick his habit, and he convinces Stretch to kick too for moral support.

The movie is a damning critique of the bureaucracy of the U.S. welfare system without being preachy or overbearing. In their attempt to get into a rehab program, Stretch and Spoon get the royal runaround, being sent from office to office, waiting in all sorts of lines, and dealing with all sorts of overworked “public servants.” But through it all, though they would be justified in saying “screw that,” they stick it out, each supporting the other.

Though the movie is interesting, there are places where the movie feels forced, like the wait in the artificially-placed phone box, or the photographic wallpaper of the nature scene in the hospital. There are also places where the movie drifts off into tangents that don’t fit in with the rest of the movie, like the big drug dealers who are merely caricatures (one is played by the director, Vondie Curtis Hall) when all the other characters are three-dimensional, or the sequence when the two main characters feel as if they might be charged with murder.

This movie feels like a first-time director’s effort (which it is). It is idealistic and interesting, but not very well executed. See it if you like the concept and if you can forgive a movie for a few flaws.