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Movie Review: 'Another Day In Paradise'

Friends indeed: Two couples join forces in danger and drugs for 'Another Day in Paradise'

Friday, February 19, 1999

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

When the kiddie criminals slide into the back seat of the car, Sid (Melanie Griffith) smiles and says, "So, you two are Bonnie and Clyde. So are we."

    'Another Day In Paradise'

Rating: R for strong violence, sexuality, drug use and language.

Starring: James Woods, Melanie Griffith.

Director: Larry Clark

Critics Call: 2 1/2 stars


Sid is taking a little on-the-lam license since Bonnie probably never shot dope into her neck or upper thigh, the way she does. But we get the message.

Mel (James Woods) and Sid are junkies and thieves who take young Bobbie (Vincent Kartheiser) and Rosie (Natasha Gregson Wagner) under their wayward wings in the 1970s. On one level they're partners in crime and on another, Sid and Mel become substitute mother and father for the teens who apparently fled abusive homes.

"Another Day in Paradise," opening today at the Beehive, is Larry Clark's follow-up to his controversial "Kids" tracking a group of New York teens through a long, strange trip into drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex and aimlessness. Clark first came across "Another Day" as an unpublished prison manuscript written by the unknown Eddie Little.

When the movie opens, Bobbie is a petty thief and doper. He pries open vending machines - until a guard beats him bloody with a club. Bobbie stabs him with a screwdriver and barely makes it back to the squalid apartment where he's holed up with girlfriend Rosie.

Mel patches him up and later offers him $10,000 for an out-of-town job, which is how the foursome end up in a black Cadillac heading for the clinic and pharmacy run by the "biggest speed doc in the Midwest." At first, it seems like Bobbie and Rosie have found the good life: A shopping spree, champagne, heroin, more money than they've ever seen and someone to tuck them into bed at night.

Bobbie says he's the happiest he's ever been, which is the movie equivalent of waving a red flag at the script gods. You just know that trouble is around the corner, especially after Mel assures him that everything will be all right. And eventually, when the guns cease being cool toys and the dope attracts dangerous cretins, Bobbie and Rosie reassess their renegade status. In the end, it's the primal urges - parenthood, survival, self-protection - that propel the characters.

It's great fun to watch Woods and even, surprisingly, the tender-tough Griffith, although I found her bee-stung lips distracting. Woods, not looking quite as horrible in vintage fashions as in "Casino," gets to be charming, paternal, explosive and downright sociopathic. Woods and a mood-enhancing soundtrack with songs by Clarence Carter and Bob Dylan help to elevate this way above "Kids."

However, "Another Day" offers little that's new, despite Clark's attempt to "make a film that shows it like it is." Or was. It has all the usual hallmarks of a drug-addled desperado movie: a rising body count, drug buys and burglaries gone bad, a fracturing of the felonious family and a reminder that Mel was right. "Pros don't do dope. It makes you screw up."

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