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Tue, Nov 8, 2005 at 11:11 PM

click to enlarge steve_martin2.jpg
Gag me with a glove. The only reason I saw the "romantic" "comedy" Shopgirl, based on Steve Martin's novella of the same name, was because my friend and I got lost on the way to Pasadena and it was too late to see The Squid and the Whale. Now, I can appreciate a good chick flick as much as anyone, particularly one set in Los Angeles, but the entire premise of this one  - that  the oddball depressive Saks Fifth Avenue glove salesgirl Mirabelle (Claire Danes) is going to fall for the rich, suave computer something-or-other Ray Porter (Steve Martin), who in turn is going to crush her with his cold cold heart - seriously made my skin crawl. We are asked to find Ray the pinnacle of urbanity because he wears shiny black shoes, drinks wine on his private plane, and lives in a modern house in the Hollywood Hills that he bought already furnished. On their second date, he asks the schoolmarm-styled Silver Lake resident Mirabelle if she has a good relationship with her father (wink wink), and then says he has run out of "date questions." Already?! But she is smitten because he takes her to THE IVY and uh...did I already mention the house?     Their love making scenes reduced me to a fourth-grade maturity level. "Eeew!" I screeched, peeking through my fingers. How could they? How could A.O. Scott of the New York Times describe this film as "near perfect"? Jason Schwartzman's almost-lovable slob Jeremy was the best thing about the movie, and thankfully Mirabelle does end up with him in the end after Ray informs her, via handwritten note, that he cheated, causing her to sob bitterly, beseeching, "why don't you love me?". Meanwhile we're expected to believe that Jeremy's two-month tour as the amp tech for a shitty rock band, much of which he spent listening to self-help tapes, has turned him into some kind of sensitive guy who can afford Helmut Lang suits. Oh, and Mirabelle, who makes two charcoal drawings a year (she's "quirky," remember?) has a show at an elite Beverly Hills gallery. Ray shows up with a new, appropriately aged girlfriend and Jeremy is turned out in another $3000 suit. Such is the poetry of life.     I read reviews of this movie that said to "bring tissues"; why? To wipe the oily film off my eyeballs? I cringed for poor lovely Claire Danes. I mean, who doesn't love Steve Martin? He's a wild and crazy guy, but he is not Marlon Brando. The very reason Lost in Translation (which this received many comparisons to) was so poignant and romantic was because Scarlett Johannsen and Bill Murray didn't go there. And we didn't want them to. Clearly, this is Steve Martin's mid-life crisis movie, but it just seems to me that the Emperor has no clothes. Now could he please put them back on?

posted by Steffie Nelson

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