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'Head Over Heels'

'Head Over Heels' is another mindless vehicle for Freddie Prinze Jr.

Friday, February 02, 2001

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Movie Critic

Hey, I got an idea for a movie! Let's turn a plain Jane into a beautiful model and have Prinze Charming fall in love with her!

'Head Over Heels'

RATING: PG-13 for mild sex scenes

STARRING: Monica Potter, Freddie Prinze Jr.

DIRECTOR: Mark Waters

WEB SITE: www.headover



Stunningly original.

"I have the worst taste in men," moans lovelorn Amanda (Monica Potter) at the outset, pre-Freddie. But it ain't gonna get much better post-Freddie.

In "Head Over Heels," Potter plays a Metropolitan Museum art restorer, currently excited about the priceless Titian that has been casually tossed over to her for repair. The day they let this babe fiddle with a painting like that, I'll pe-Titian for her supervisor's mental competency hearing.

Never mind. She is no more or less believable in her job than the three hideously stereotyped old ladies or the young Asian lesbian (China Chow -- an actress, not a dog food) who are her professional colleagues.

Amanda needs an apartment and finds one with four built-in gorgeous roommates -- Shalom Harlow, Ivana Milicevic, Sarah O'Hare and Tomiko Fraser -- "the last four non-smoking models in New York," who keep a bevy of hunky guys at bay outside their door during "waiting hours" before they're ready to go out on the town at night. If selected, the lucky ones get the privilege of paying the ladies' bar tabs. Most of the men will be rejected for flaws like "those shoes -- strictly Payless!" (That particular joke personally offended me very deeply: I just bought a pair of $19.95 shoes at Payless last week.)

In the process of moving in with these bimbos, Amanda bumps into Freddie Prinze Jr. ("She's All That"), who lives across the way and the very sight of whom leaves her weak in the knees, especially when charged and humped by his huge dog, which happens often. She says all manner of stupid things to this stupid guy who never apologizes -- just smiles and looks stupidly handsome -- whenever his stupid dog stupidly knocks her down.

Potter, a "Patch Adams" alumna, is so eager and obvious, an embarrassment to her sex in Gidget's 1958, let alone 2001. She has been assigned to do Lucille Ball pratfall shtick, and she's not up to it. Neither are the others, except for the truly sexy Ivana Milicevic. Truly dorky, for instance, is Shalom Harlow, a real-life runway model.

Freddie never draws his shades, and the girls constantly spy on him in "Rear Window" fashion. One night it appears that he murders somebody. They sneak into his apartment the next day to find the body. He suddenly comes home. They hide in the bathroom shower while he attends to his business with massive flatulence -- a stolen gag, both old and repulsive. In a subsequent restaurant men's-room scene, a toilet explodes onto all four girls.

Director Mark Waters ("The House of Yes") says he wanted this to be a "sophisticated comedy a la Hollywood's golden era -- smart, snappy dialogue combined with hilarious slapstick." And Soupy Sales wanted his TV show to be "War and Peace" -- with a greater likelihood of success. Waters tries to enhance the proceedings with a mystery, of sorts, but the only real mystery is how such mindless drivel ever got script approval.

Turns out Freddie is secretly a ... Well, I won't give it away -- "it" being the pathetic facsimile of a plot device and of Prinze's "character." I find it impossible to believe or see why this guy is considered a heartthrob, other than a synthetically created studio one. Drop-dead handsome? He's a drop-dead narcissist -- a bigger airhead than the girls, if that's possible. Having suffered through both of his monumentally undeserved "vehicles," I am now an involuntary Freddie Prinze Jr. expert and qualified to say: Don't give him a third!

How to put it delicately? I hate this movie. It pretends to parody women as sex products, while its male chauvinist piggie makers crassly try to cash in on exactly that. In its most "profound" moment, one of the chicks searches her cardboard soul and speaks for all of them: "We're beachfront property in the Hamptons now, but in a few years we'll be condos in New Jersey."

You flatter yourselves, girls: You're Hoboken acreage already, and your boy Freddie is a rental unit in Pitcairn.

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