A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)

Cross-dressing!  Mud-wrestling!!  Inter-species sex!!!  The latest 
installment of the Jerry Shakespeare Show, writer/director Michael 
Hoffman's 19th-Century update of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, stars 
Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, and 
Calista Flockhart, among others-- an ensemble of very pretty, *very* 
well-coifed actors, each of whom can probably speak Pig Latin better 
than ye olde, tongue-twisting iambic pentameter.  Kline is the ex-
pected exception; his diction is loud and proud and clear to the ear 
in nary every scene.  The others, from Catwoman to Ally McBeal, are 
only so-so successful.  They mumble and whisper and, in the case of  
supporting player Sophie Marceau, speak in an even less-than-cipher-
able French accent.  Mon Dieu!  The result, at least to this highly 
untrained ear, is a lot of dialogue that sounds like "blub blub blub 
blub blub blub."  Oh well, at least the vexed verse is accompanied 
by exaggerated facial expressions and pronounced physical gestures.  
By simply watching Flockhart pout or Tucci mug, you can half-follow 
the story even when you can't.  Of course, not all of the text makes 
simple sense.  For starters, there are all these references to Ath-
ens and Greece and yet the film is set in Italy.  Huh?  There's also 
a strange subplot involving a father's legal power to put his adult 
daughter to death.  This is the late-1800's?  And, last but not 
least, the woods that be full of fairies are full of *full*-sized 
fairies!  What?!  Well, maybe they didn't have enough green to fin-
ish the FX...  With Anna Friel, Dominic West, Christian Bale, and 
David Strathairn.  (Rated "PG-13"/118 min.)

Grade: D+

Copyright 1999 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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