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Nurse Betty  

Betty Sizemore (Renee Zellweger)
Charlie (Morgan Freeman)
Wesley (Chris Rock)
George McCord (Greg Kinnear)
Del Sizemore (Aaron Eckhart)
Directed by Neil LaBute Written by John C. Richards and James Flanberg
Rated R for strong violence, harsh language and a scene of sexuality
Running Time: 110 minutes Distributed by USA Films
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Nurse Betty is a unique comedy that hits on all cylinders, except its plot. The popular TV soap opera "A Reason to Live" has a very devoted viewer in Betty (Zellweger), a young waitress who is married to a mean car-salesman, Del (Eckhart). At home one night viewing a taped copy of that day's episode, Betty watches obsessively as her favorite character, Dr. David Ravell (Kinnear) stares up at the stars and says, "I know there's someone special out there for me." Betty feels that the character is speaking directly to her. That is until Del comes home with two hit men (Freeman and Rock) to negotiate an unlawful deal. As she watches her taped episode, Betty becomes a witness of her husband's brutal murder by the two hit men. Betty, traumatized by this savage event, develops a psychological stage that allows her to keep going in an alternate reality. She then decides to go on the road to return to the love of her life, Dr. David Ravell from the soap opera "A Reason to Live."

Nurse Betty is a well developed and made film. However, I just didn't like its sensual plot or plots. In a way it becomes an absurd element of comedy like in last year's Being John Malkovich, but I just felt that the plot was weary.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the two writers', John C. Richards and James Flanberg, script. I just didn't like the storyline. The characters are brilliant in this film and the parallelism between the kind hit man Charlie and Betty works to perfection. In my opinion, the character connections and traits are what stand out in the film. I didn't believe that the film was a laugh-a-minute comedy, but I did find some humor, thrills, heart and darkness in it. Also, the dialogue is so sophisticated and strong that one line can tell everything about a character. An example is one of the best lines of the film said by the likeable Charlie, "I'm a garbage man for the human condition." The overall script is very straightforward and has variety without any loopholes.

Neil Labute very patiently directed Nurse Betty. Labute is a type of director that I believe likes to test his audience and push the envelope. An example of this is his 1998 film Your Friends and Neighbors, which I hated. I just thought it was an overboard film that contain too much disturbance and sin. With Nurse Betty he tones it down, even though the film has some moments when you will cringe in your seat. The film is a dark comedy, a chase movie, a character-driven movie, a psychological movie and a humorous absurd movie. All of these movie genres tie in to the script and Labute's vision to deliver a very different film.

The acting cast of this film is nothing short of outstanding. Morgan Freeman is just a great actor and he delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as the complex hit man Charlie. I don't believe that too many actors could bring to the table what Freeman does with his character. Renee Zellweger delivers her best performance since Jerry Maguire as the traumatized Betty. Zellweger's eyes and contributable facial expression are joyful to watch as she intrigues herself into the life of Dr. David Ravell. Chris Rock mostly just delivers one-liners, lots of yelling and cursing as the apprentice of Charlie, Wesley. However, he is funny but also evil in this film. I have always and still do enjoy Chris Rock's work. Greg Kinnear yet again plays another egotistic jerk, but he is a very good choice for the role of George McCord. Lastly, Aaron Eckhart creates a disgusting and hateful bastard for a husband in Nurse Betty. Eckhart has proved to me that he is a terrific character actor. Watch out for this up-coming performer in the future.

Nurse Betty is a film that intellectual filmgoers will flip over. However, limited filmgoers might not catch its fantasy type of style. It took me a couple of days to figure out all of the character connections. The film has a lot of good things and Oscar-worthy performances by Freeman and Zellweger, but I didn’t like the storyline.

Report Card Grade: C+

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