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Review: Dragonfly

The film is a half-assed amalgam of Sixth Sense boos and Mothman Prophecies suggestiveness.

Photo: Universal Pictures

In Dragonfly (a half-assed amalgam of Sixth Sense boos and Mothman Prophecies suggestiveness), Dr. Joe Darrow’s happy-go-lucky colonialist wife brings medicine to native folk somewhere in the mountains of Venezuela. Spanglish-shouting interpreters can’t save Emily from the elements when her school bus goes over a cliff. Back in Chicago, Dr. Joe (Kevin Costner) grieves for Mrs. Patch Adams, awkwardly chumming up with the hospital’s buggy Cancer kids. Little Jeffrey with the weak heart babbles on and on about rainbows, mists and purple mountains majesty. It seems that these children have made cereal-box contact with the afterlife, or a cross-happy Salvador Dalí. Dr. Joe is a scientist, though, which means he’s skeptical, much like his lawyer neighbor played by Kathy Bates, whose age and hairstyle has shamelessly typecasted her to a lifetime of busybody moms and lesbians. Possibly the most maudlin, unfrightening horror film ever made, Dragonfly spells out its scares and faith-speak as if it were lecturing from atop Mt. Sinai. Indeed, Joe’s conversation with a crazy nun (a ridiculous Linda Hunt, no doubt picked for her similarity to the film’s South American natives) sounds like the gobbledy gook of two children reading from a book of Bible stories. As for director Tom Shadyac’s unfortunate use of his camera, a too-close-for-comfort shot of a dead man suggests Emily is trying to communicate though the fatty tissue beneath the man’s belly button. Egregious dragonfly metaphors aside, the biggest culprit here is a pitiful screenplay whose characters announce their occupation before launching into appropriate discourse (“I’m a lawyer, something isn’t real without evidence,” says Bates’s truth-seeker) while Costner’s Joe foreshadows the film’s scariest moment by disclosing his parrot’s talking habits. Once the seemingly pro-suicide Dragonfly takes vanilla Joe to the land brown under you might wonder why Hollywood ghosts are so long-winded when trying to make contact. The film’s natives are easily frazzled, seemingly in need of the white man’s medical attention yet the patronizing Shadyac is generous enough to celebrate their hyper-spirituality. Por favor, have we learned nothing from Romancing the Stone? Hollywood cannot do South America unless Kathleen Turner is sliding down a muddy hill.

Cast: Kevin Costner, Kathryn Erbe, Kathy Bates, Meg Thalken, Susann Thompson, Robert Bailey Jr., Casey Biggs Director: Tom Shadyac Screenwriter: Brandon Camp, David Seltzer, Mike Thompson Distributor: Universal Pictures Running Time: 104 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2002 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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