WE NEED only hear the immortal line, "How did you get all those transvestites on the monkey bars anyhow, hmmm?," to know that "Stateside" is going to be one of those movies about Kwazy People.
Uttered within the first few minutes of the film by Dori Lawrence (Rachael Leigh Cook) -- a schizophrenic movie star-rock singer who always looks ready for her next close-up, even when she's slamming her pretty little wrists into the glass shards of a broken window pane -- that silly snippet of dialogue serves as a kind of cinematic shorthand, not for serious mental illness, but for the kind of cuddly, user-friendly insanity that Hollywood loves. Hollywood, apparently, is not alone.
Ostensibly based on a true story, "Stateside" is an ill-conceived romantic drama about a young Marine named Mark (Jonathan Tucker) who falls for a dangerously unbalanced celebrity he meets through a mutual friend, Sue (Agnes Bruckner). That friend, mind you, also happens to be said celebrity's roommate at the local sanitarium, thanks primarily to a nervous breakdown Sue has suffered as a result of Mark's nearly killing her in a car accident.
Funny the way life works, isn't it?
Actually, it isn't. Dori is so clearly in need of professional help -- rather than the hot monkey love that seems to be Mark's specialty -- that it ought to be obvious to anyone watching this movie what Mark should do. In fact, Dori's doctor at one point spells it out in no uncertain terms: Leave her alone. She may want you and you may want her, but you're bad for her, therapeutically speaking.
Does Mark listen? Does a transvestite swing on a monkey bar? (That would be a big, fat no.)
Mark is so obtuse, not to mention immature, referring to "sobering" Dori up as if she were merely a tipsy sorority girl who has had one too many Cosmopolitans, that it makes you wonder whether he has suffered brain damage during boot camp on Parris Island. If the Marines are supposed to be making him into a man, it ain't working.
Neither, for that matter, does the film, which turns out to be not so much a movie about a Kwazy Person as it is about a Stoopid Person.
It's hard to know which is more annoying: The fact that writer-director Reverge Anselmo makes Dori's schizophrenic look like little more than a cute, sexually available lush or that he makes Mark's Marine act like a jarhead with nothing inside except fireflies.
STATESIDE (R, 96 minutes) -- Contains obscenity, violence, self-destructive behavior, mild boot camp sadism, a strip club scene and sexy talk. Area theaters.