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'Trixie'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 21, 2000

   


    'Trixie' Emily Watson plays a detective in "Trixie." (Sony Pictures Classics)
In which an Alan Rudolph fan regretfully registers his disappointment. There's meant to be something ticklish and adorable about Trixie Zurbo, in writer-director Rudolph's detective fantasy. As played by Emily Watson, she's a shy but quietly forceful security guard who gets a job as an undercover detective at a lakefront casino. She's also a walking-tawkin' font of malaprop who says things like "You gotta grab a bull by a tail and look it in the eye." She makes friends with the help, including Kirk Stans (Nathan Lane), the lounge crooner who seems to be a cross between Jerry Lewis and a deflated Mickey Rooney; and Dex Lang (Dermot Mulroney), a clumsily raffish ladies' man who leads her into a mess of trouble, involving a senator (Nick Nolte), a strung-out, faded beauty named Dawn (Lesley Anne Warren) and an incriminating tape.

In a rather complex scenario, in which Trixie eventually finds herself a prime suspect in a murder, she has to temporarily part with Dex to prove her innocence, brutalizing the language at every quarter. Unfortunately Rudolph's delicate, subtle style has a front-end collision with the humor he forces into the movie. Watson's performance – the downcast eyes, the gum chewing and the patently ridiculous expressions – comes across as manufactured shtick. Although some of those wacky utterance scan be amusing ("You're not drinking yourself to Bolivia," she admonishes Dawn at one point), she's too British and overqualified for the role. Although the hallmarks of Rudolph movies can be found everywhere – not to mention some of his usual performers – they don't add up to the usual magic this time.

TRIXIE (R, 117 minutes) – Contains sex, violence and butchered cliches.

 

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company


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