Movie Review: Woman on Top (Penelope Cruz, Mark Fuerstien) 2000

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Comedy
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Isabella (Cruz) is a chef in Brazil who suffers from motion sickness.  Her husband Toninho (Murilo Benicio) is also a chef, they run a restaurant together.  Her motion sickness is only eased when she does everything herself, drives the car, takes the lead in dancing and takes command in the bedroom.  This makes Toninho feel quite emasculated, so he cheats on Isabella, even though he still loves her.  Isabella does some kind of ritual to a Brazilian goddess and buries her love for Toninho at the bottom of the sea.

Isabella moves to San Francisco, tries to become a chef, and fails.  She then makes a pot of coffee that gets the attention of tv news producer Cliff (Fuersten) Cliff allows her to do the show just the way she wants to and, Isabella’s show is a smash hit.  Toninho cannot forget Isabella and follows her to San Francisco bossa nova band in tow, but has Isabella’s love for Toninho truly been buried forever?  Can she find love with Cliff and happiness on her own cooking show?

I didn’t really like this movie, because it’s like two different movies rolled into one.  One is a really good Latino movie with strong acting from Cruz and Benicio, and unmistakable chemistry between the two.  The other movie is a formulaic Hollywood comedy with the same old stock Hollywood characters, a bland romantic rival, a whole host of leering men, leering at Cruz of course, and the ubiquitous gay character, this time a gay, black transvestite who lives with Cruz and gives her advice on love. Gag.  Fuerstien is a bore as the romantic rival, and Harold Perrineau Jr, shows nothing in this role that hasn’t been seen before. The stereotype of the sassy black female is getting old fast.  The scenes that really work are between Benicio and Cruz, and Benicio and his bossa nova troubadours.  Cruz shows a deft comedic touch and some real sensitivity in the more serious scenes, too bad this movie strays from the story of the star-crossed lovers too often.

Woman on Top. Nowhere near the top of my movie list..

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