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1998-2000 C. Petrovic

Original date of publication:
Deseret News Publishing
No copyright infringement is intended.

By: Chris Hicks

          Winona Ryder, a fine young actress who has shown her stuff 
    in "Heathers" and "Great Balls of Fire," has the lead role in 
    "Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael," and is the best thing about the

          In fact, her sensitive portrayal of a teenage girl who feels 
    abandoned, unloved and unwanted seems at odds with the film's 
    frivolous treatment of far too many subjects.

          The title character  Roxy Carmichael  is talked about but
    never shown, a presence looming over the movie, providing the
    catharsis for, but never participating in, its action.

          She is the prodigal daughter who has left her small hometown
    of Clyde, Ohio, and made good, though the reason for her fame is 
    left a mystery until about halfway through the film. Occasionally
    she is shown on screen  but never her face  in dreamy slow-motion 
    sequences that display the opulence in which she lives as she swims 
    nude in her pool or packs for her trip back home.

          Meanwhile, in Clyde, the town is going nuts preparing for her
    return, with all kinds of kitschy celebrations planned, her old 
    house  being decorated as a shrine and old friends and rivals 
    comparing nostalgic notes.
          Those moments that lampoon celebrity obsession are sometimes 
    very funny, but they seem to be throwaway gags in between the 
    coming-of-age melodrama, which, despite Ryder's excellent central 
    performance, seem contrived and silly.

          Ryder's character is named Dinky. What else? She's adopted, 
    with cartoonish parents, so she adopts three dogs, a pig, a goat 
    and a cat as her "family," keeping them at a secret Noah's ark 
    she's building.

          There's also a subplot about Roxy Carmichael's former boy-
    friend (Jeff Daniels), who is so excited about her coming back to 
    town that he alienates his wife and children.

          From him, Dinky learns that Roxy gave birth 15 years earlier
    and she becomes convinced that Roxy is her mother and is coming to 
    take her away from all this.
          If the plotting here sounds complicated, it is  unnecessarily.
    There are a couple of solid laughs, but the schizophrenic nature of
    the film is never resolved and the result is a bag that is far too
    mixed. (It was written by first-time screenwriter Karen Leigh 
    Hopkins and marks the first solo directing effort from Jim Abrahams, 
    co-director of "Airplane!")
          Dinky reminded me quite a bit of Liza Minnelli's character 
    in the 1969 movie "The Sterile Cuckoo," in which she played a shy, 
    lonely college freshman who was a misfit. That character's name 
    was also rather cutesy  Pookie. A coincidence?

          "Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael" is rated PG-13 for nudity, 
    sex, profanity, vulgarity, and violence.