Anywhere But Here (1999)


Anywhere But Here

Anywhere But Here? A more apt title you will not find on a motion picture this decade.

After a witty lead like that, at this point in the movie review, I usually launch into a brief plot synopsis. So here goes: A down-to-earth teenage girl hates her crazy mother.

If you’re waiting for more, you can stop holding your breath. In a nutshell, that’s it. Sure, there are some details (the two move from Wisconsin to Beverly Hills) – okay, there is a detail – but someone really tried to make a movie out of this shocking premise.

So maybe you think there’s something to be salvaged by the two big-name actresses headlining the picture. Well, there’s Sarandon as the nutty and irresponsible mom, played in one full dimension and with Sarandon looking indistinguishable from Leslie Ann Warren. Or there’s the pouty Portman, in what will go down as the most forgettable role she’s ever played.

But the worst failing of Anywhere But Here is the utter lack of any sort of plot. For two hours, we drag through one boring and random tragedy after another. The characters never change, the film never matures. It’s excruciating to watch.

I mean, what is this movie supposed to be about? An aging woman’s midlife crisis? The struggle of a teenager who finds herself playing parent to the real mother? Outcasts in Beverly Hills? All of this has been done, and occasionally it’s been done well. But Anywhere But Here takes these three movies and runs them straight into the ground.

Anywhere But Here is so bad that if I wasn’t a film critic, I would have left the theater in the first 45 minutes. But as a professional, I knew I would have had to see the last half sometime. The prospect of that, well, the mind reels, the stomach turns, and the ass revolts.

You can almost hear her thinking the same thing as me.