Thursday, April 15, 2004

Movie: The United States of Leland

Posted on Thu, Apr 15, 2004 at 4:00 AM

**
Our Rating: 2.00

If it's still possible to perceive new depths in the whiny-teen canon, the title Worst in Show could easily go to this waste of precious art-house space, which sees a glum antihero-type (Ryan Gosling) incarcerated for the murder of his girlfriend's mentally disabled younger brother. He doesn't deny it, either; but by the time the movie gets around to letting us in on his narcissistically loopy non-reason for committing the horrible act, we've endured a stultifying parade of voice-over homilies and flashbacks driven by hot-button suburban crises like heroin addiction. There's also some wholly fatuous interplay between the kid and his teacher (Don Cheadle) in juvie, who discerns a literary bent to this accused stabber and promptly helps him smuggle a pencil (!) back to his cell to jot down his memoirs. Whatever intrigue the film might hold is hamstrung by the featherweight presence of star Gosling, who was undeniably compelling in "The Believer" but here displays so little personal energy that he makes Donnie Darko look like The Rock. Fleeting glimpses of '90s "It" girls Sherilyn Fenn and Lena Olin fuel a running game of Spot the Has-Been, and Chris Klein gets to play a high-schooler — for, like, the sixth year running.

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