Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:27 - Released 2/9/01

One of the first things we learn about Amanda Pierce (Monica Potter), the main female character of Mark S. Waters's romantic comedy Head Over Heels, is that she's got bad judgment in men. Unfortunately, Potter doesn't mention her judgment in movies. Working as a restorer of ancient paintings for the Renaissance department of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Iowa-born Amanda tells co-workers that she thinks men are "too complicated," lacking the simplicity of the paintings she restores, whose beauty makes her weak in the knees. You got it, folks — she's looking for a man as two-dimensional as a painting. Thank God for Freddie Prinze Jr.

Although John J. Strauss and Ed Decter were part of the team responsible for the witty and offbeat There's Something About Mary, they must have misplaced their sense of originality when writing this story, or maybe their mistake was turning it over to novice screen writers David Kidd and Ron Burch. Whatever their error, we all must pay, as we are subjected to a story as bland, as trite, and as two-dimensional as our friend Amanda could ever hope for, blending pretty faces with a plot designed for the mentally and romantically challenged.

Having discovered her latest boyfriend in bed with another woman, Amanda seeks a new place to live, moving to a ritzy apartment shared by four supermodels (played by real supermodels Shalom Harlow, Ivana Milicevic, Sarah O'Hare, and Tomiko Fraser). As these women are intended solely to act as a unit without any substantial non-physical characteristics separating them, there is no need to even mention their characters' names. They just look good and spout shallow, supermodel-esque comments about love, romance, etc., while going out every night with a different crowd of slavering, tuxedoed walking erections who compete fiercely for the deeply significant honor of picking up the check.

Through an utterly uninspired dog-related accident not unlike the one seen 40 years ago in Disney's original cartoon 101 Dalmatians, Amanda meets suave bachelor Jim Winston (Prinze), who makes her knees wobble just like the paintings. Even though he seems to have everything she wants (he's pretty, he's got a nice frame, and he disappears when he turns sideways), she tries to convince herself that she's not attracted to him. Soon she and her pretty, sideways-disappearing roomies discover that he lives in the building across from them (and never uses blinds or curtains), so naturally they all begin spying on him as he does various sexy, manly-type things like chin-ups and Girl Scout Cookie buying. Strangely, although Amanda and friends never use curtains either and he can see into their apartment just as easily, he never notices them. Then he does something really manly: he kills a beautiful woman — or so they think. So the girls decide to conduct their own wacky investigation, with consequences that are at best negligibly humorous.

Freddy Prinze Jr. always seems to find his way into the most appallingly insubstantial of movies, and he's hit another bullseye with this one. Director Waters, who helmed the dark but clever House of Yes (1997), has downshifted to the kind of crowd-pleasing, lowest-common-denominator style Prinze has grown accustomed to, substituting pretty faces and windowpane-thin characterizations (not to mention some astoundingly out-of-place potty humor) for any semblance of real substance. Don't get me wrong; I don't expect a light romance released this early in the year to be Eyes Wide Shut, but one would at least hope for something that is not so gleefully lobotomized. In this case, one would be disappointed. *

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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