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'Feast of Love' wastes fine acting and lots of nakedness, thanks to a stupid screenplay

Decent performances from Greg Kinnear and Morgan Freeman are wasted in Feast of Love, a hokey, schmaltzy exercise in filmmaking from director Robert Benton. This film's script calls upon psychic card readers, heart attacks striking people in their 20s, and home-produced porn to tell its depressing story of crazy love in the modern world--and it actually wants to be taken seriously.

Freeman plays Harry, a college professor mourning the loss of his son to drugs. He resides in a cute college town with his wife, Esther (Jane Alexander), who occasionally gets herself in trouble by suggesting her grieving husband should go back to work. In the first of many script contrivances, Harry hangs around Jitters, a coffee shop owned by Bradley (Kinnear), a happily married guy oblivious to the fact that his wife (Selma Blair) is a lesbian in bloom. It's obvious to us that she's a lesbian, because a pretty girl tags her on the ass during a softball game, and she reacts coyly. The only thing missing from this moment is Blair giving "aw shucks" eyes and touching her index finger to her bottom lip.

So Bradley loses his wife. In the meantime, he hires smoking-hot Chloe (Alexa Davalos) to work in his coffee shop, making his emo-haircut employee, Oscar (Toby Hemingway), very happy. They waste little time getting naked, much to the chagrin of Toby's caricature father, Bat (Fred Ward, hilariously overacting), who wants all signs of female happiness and nudity the hell out of his house. Bat has a big knife to intimidate, and he actually stabs Chloe's groceries at one point; surprisingly enough, no visits from the police follow. Speaking for myself, if Fred Ward stabs my grocery bag in front of my house, it's time for some 911 action and/or a knee to the groin.

A lot of other totally implausible things happen to keep the plot rolling. Bradley, happily back in the game with a new and cheating girlfriend, Diana (Radha Mitchell), who gets big-time naked in this movie, unknowingly moves in next door to Harry. He discovers this when Harry drops by unannounced with a fruitcake to warn Bradley that his house is cursed with bad love--not exactly the best of housewarming gifts.

So we viewers can keep tabs on Diana's "other man" (Billy Burke), he just happens to play scrimmage football with Oscar. (The beans are spilled when Oscar and Chloe spy Diana making out with the quarterback in broad daylight.) Bradley will lose Diana, of course, which will cause him to do strange stuff to his hand. A subsequent visit to a hospital puts Bradley in the hands of a totally hot doctor. She likes Bradley because, although he is totally insane, he looks like Greg Kinnear. They hit it off, and the Gods of Love have finally smiled upon Bradley. This is supposed to make us smile, but it made me gag.

This movie wants to be more than just a dumbshit love story. One more big tragedy--an event that all of the principle characters witness--is supposed to end things on a serious note. This major event occurs during another football scrimmage that a big chunk of the film's cast is happily watching. When was the last time you took time out of your busy day to watch a bunch of unofficial assholes throwing a football around? This cast of characters is watching the scrimmage like it's a championship game. It's just a stupid reason to bring the cast together for a big plot point.

If you think you might like Mitchell naked--and I mean really, really naked--go ahead and lay down the bucks for this movie. There's no discernible reason for you to go otherwise, unless you have a hankering for the sight of Kinnear crying and hugging a dog a lot. While the actors try mightily, they can't overcome one of the year's dumbest scripts.

Feast of Love
Rated NR

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