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The Thing Called Love
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
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What's the story?
New Yorker Miranda arrives in Nashville with a couple of songs and a dream of becoming a country music star. Miranda (Samantha Mathis) immediately runs into brooding singer/songwriter James (River Phoenix) and the two begin a love-hate relationship. Unsuccessful at her first audition, Miranda takes a waitressing job and moves in with Linda-Lou (Sandra Bullock), a southern belle determined to find herself a career. Miranda is also pursued by the lovesick Kyle (Dermot Mulroney), a fellow Yankee songwriter. Her music career stalls and Miranda is advised to "dig in deeper." After a fraught courtship, she and James marry, but the relationship hits the rocks when the two struggle to discover their individual identities. Miranda thinks about heading back to New York, but decides to put her pain into her writing, and finally pens a successful song. She's on her way.
Is it any good?
This isn't a fresh story, but here it's told with a disarmingly direct charm. It's an earnest take on finding love -- and finding yourself in the process. Still, the movie isn't entirely successful. It's hurt by actors who aren't really singers. The only actor who convincingly plays a musical performer is River Phoenix, who was actively pursuing a musical career before he died.
Phoenix's character name (James) is also apropos, since he spends the bulk of the movie doing his best James Dean impression, staring down and mumbling his lines. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's annoying. The rest of the actors do a fine job, especially Sandra Bullock as the slightly loopy Southern belle.
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