Judge Elizabeth Skipper was both relieved and disappointed to discover that this film was not yet another story about illicit doings between a certain former Chief Executive and a woman not his wife. Relieved, because she couldn't stand to sit through another of those. Disappointed, because she couldn't stand to sit through this, either.
Murder brought them together…love kept them alive.
Even Andy Garcia, Ellen Barkin, Morgan Freeman, and John C. McGinley together can't save a 1988 made-for-TV movie with a tag line like that.
Facts of the Case
When Clinton Dillard (Andy Garcia, Ocean's Eleven, When a Man Loves a Woman) pays a visit to his brother, he finds men in the house and his brother dead. He also finds some audiotapes and a woman's purse, which leads him to Nadine Powers (Ellen Barkin, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Sea of Love), who was a friend of Clinton's brother and is about to skip town for Miami. Coincidentally (or is it?), the audiotapes Clinton found mention a lawyer in Miami, so he agrees to drive her there. Clinton finds the lawyer, Dorsey Pratt (Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty, The Shawshank Redemption), and he and his associates—including John C. McGinley (Scrubs, Identity)—are very eager to get their hands on the tapes. Meanwhile, Nadine goes to stay in a posh apartment that turns out to be owned by some sort of sugar daddy.
Somewhere along the way, we learn that Nadine's sugar daddy knew Clinton's brother, and that Pratt and his men are involved in something much more sinister than practicing law. Will Clinton and Nadine's love keep them alive?
Oh, right, of course it will, because the tag line tells us so. Thank goodness for the love that blossoms over four days between an exotic bird smuggler (oh, did I forget to mention that gem?) and a call girl. I hope those crazy kids find a way to work it out.
Then again, maybe they already did find a way to work it out. I'm not really sure because I still don't quite understand what was going on. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person and I tried very hard to pay attention to the movie, but apparently I'm no match for a plot this unintelligible (and not in the artistic, "decide what really happened for yourself" kind of way, either). Or perhaps it was much more simplistic than I gave it credit for, and I was looking for something more. To be sure, I'd have to watch it again, and I just don't hate myself enough to do that.
I never thought I'd see the day when I would declare a movie with Andy Garcia, Ellen Barkin, Morgan Freeman, and John C. McGinley to be badly acted, but that day has come. Not a single one of them showed any talent at all at any point during Clinton and Nadine. I know the movie was made 16 years ago, but I would have thought at least one of these actors would have had some skills then. Sadly, no. They jump between the extremes of wooden and overemotive, but no one finds that happy medium called realistic.
Of course, even if one of them did find his or her acting chops, it would be impossible to tell with such sickly dialogue as, "I can't spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder," "You're all I dream about," and "Tell me that you love me or I'll cut your heart out," followed by a slow-motion love scene backed by cheesy piano music. No one can make that crap sound good.
Luckily, Lions Gate has made it even easier for me to hate Clinton and Nadine by providing it with nearly unacceptable audio and video transfers. Because the movie was made for TV, I assumed the full-frame video would be in its original aspect ratio, but the DVD case tells me it's been cropped, so I've therefore halved my "Video" score. And since the picture is grainy with almost constant specks of dirt and shimmering and the blacks and colors are washed out, that score was pretty low to begin with. Following suit, the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is hollow with inconsistent volume levels; I had trouble hearing most of the dialogue.
Finally, the extras. Oh wait, there aren't any…woo hoo!
The Rebuttal Witnesses
All that star power and I'm supposed to believe Clinton and Nadine is as bad as you say it is? It just doesn't seem possible that such great actors, especially Morgan Freeman, could make anything but a quality movie.
I know it seems unlikely, but please, I beg you, take my word for it.
Let's see: cheesy '80s movie with an inane plot, horrible acting, corny dialogue, grainy picture, hollow sound, and no extras…do I need to spell it out any further?
Clinton and Nadine is found guilty of every charge on the books and a few I'm going to make up for good measure, such as conspiracy to induce vomiting, and singing without a license. Lock 'em up and throw away the key!
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