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IN SHORT: Slam dunk good flick. [Rated [R]; 105 minutes]
What do you get if you take a Farrelly Brothers movie, strip it of the sex and the more gruesome physical gags (y'know, like a fishhook through the face) and cast Alec Baldwin in a supporting role as a blue collar foulmouth whose nickname for his eldest son is unprintable on these boards?
You get a very funny coming of age movie, that's what you get.
To be historically accurate, Outside Providence is based on a novel Peter Farrelly wrote before he and brother Bobby hit it big with flicks like Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. As always, no reference is made to the Source Material, which director Michael Corrente picked up for a buck at a used bookshop. ...
Set in the Pawtucket, Rhode Island of 1974, dopehead Timothy Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) cheerfully helps his wheelchair bound brother Jackie (Tommy Bone) deliver newspapers while their three legged dog, Clopsie, limps behind them. With his equally vacant friends Dunphy smokes dope, hangs out, talks big about girls (though the entire bunch is inept) with a mouth which his mom would've washed with soap, had she not blown her brains out a couple of years earlier.
OK, now that we've scared away half of my readers, Cranky'll take aim at those of you that liked Mary...
Outside Providence, lacking the really cheap humor of There's Something About Mary, replaces it with something even more interesting. A solid story, with character development, terrific performances and a moral ending. Yep. Surprised the hell out of me, too. Not only is Outside Providence downright funny, it has a moral! Dunphy actually goes through the kind of character transformation that film students and critics like. Topping even Shawn Hatosy's performance is the outstanding best-of-the-year quality work from Alec Baldwin.
After sneaking his bong out of the house -- Dunphy tells his old man it's a musical instrument, and only the old man's poker buddy Joey (George Wendt) knows better -- the losers hit the local disco, hit the bong, and hit a parked police car. Dad ships Dunphy off to a prep school where it's graduate or go to jail. While you may think this "blue collar guy in white collar world" has been done to death in other teen flicks, it is here that a substantial and very sweet story kicks into gear. Most of the gross jokes fall by the wayside (though one particularly revolting bit involving spaghetti up a nose will thrill teenboys) as Dunphy meets, falls for and wins the much smarter, much richer and much prettier Jane West (Amy Smart).
Yep, opposites attract. That this mook can win the heart of a preppie, destroy her carefully planned future, regret his actions and make it all better yields a really sweet love story. That it all came out of the pen of Peter Farrelly is the bigger surprise. I grudgingly admitted to liking There's Something About Mary, though Kingpin and Dumb and Dumber were utterly tasteless and revolting, which is what they were supposed to be -- not to my taste.
Outside Providence is better than good. It delivers an excellent story and great performances by relative newcomers Hatosy and Smart. Baldwin gets a place on my year end list and George Wendt will surprise the heck out of all of you. This is a top notch movie, though if you have problems with four letter words, consider yourself warned.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Outside Providence, he would have paid...
Damn fine movie. To make an good thing even better, the soundtrack (not only in the film, but on the CD you'll shell out cash for) is filled with absolute killer kuts of the 70s: The Who; Paul McCartney and Wings; The Eagles; The Doobie Brothers; Yes; Badfinger; Free; and the best track Lynyrd Skynyrd ever graced FM radio with ('cuz I played it daily back when I was a DJ). For a full songlist and discount purchase option, click here.
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