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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

The Show Biz Maven

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Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK

Sing “Louie, Louie”

Click to Enlarge Reviewed by the Show Biz Maven

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Merci Leonardo DiCaprio!

Who else but the lightweight Leonardo DiCaprio could play young King Louis XIV on the brink of the French Revolution, and have it all sound like a chorus of “Louie, Louie.”

Adapted from “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, with screenplay by Randall Wallace, lacks the two compelling elements of the 17th century French classic -- intrigue and adventure. Think of the motto “One for all and all for one,” and you’ve got the right story, only Wallace has padded his version with twin brothers (DiCaprio) who become twice as annoying on screen.

Meet Louis, France’s heroic “Sun King.” He’s youthful, cruel, snobbish, and manipulating. Did I mention boring? He’s joined periodically by his saintly brother Philippe who has been put out to pasture most of his life not knowing he had royal blood. Just to make sure he cannot venture into the palace, Louis has him locked him up in a hideous iron mask that would ruin anyone’s day not to mention hairstyle. That’s why when we first see his peepers from behind the disguise, we can only assume this guy is gruesome, or else The SnobzMaven’s good friend Jose Eber would have been consulted for the make-over. But show business being what it is, once Philippe is cleaned up, he’s a dead ringer for Guess Who?

DiCaprio, with his interminable Valley Boy twang and foppish looks, is the last person you’d expect to be royalty, but apparently the SnobzMaven was not asked to be casting director, or she would have also dismissed John Malkovich in the role of Musketeer Athos, who at times sounds alarmingly like the late Paul Lynde from “Hollywood Squares.”

On the opposite acting scale is Jeremy Irons as the indignant Aramis who churns over the wicked machinations of the king, and Gabriel Byrne as the gallant D’Artagnan who is ever loyal to the crown, but who also conceals a secret love. Even if the picture had centered only on them, we’d still have to contend with Gerald Depardieu as Porthos, the lusty over-the-hill swordsman. While borderline amusing, about the only phrase you can decipher from the mumbling Frenchman is “Eet cannot bee dunn.”

Since pre-teens don’t go to movies for the dialogue, it’s not a great loss for them to be locked up, so to speak, with their matinee idol for two fatiguing hours. But for pre-historics like your Maven, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK provided plenty of time to replenish the buttered popcorn and still keep up with the story line that sickened rather than thickened.

Only when the Musketeers plot to overthrow Louis and replace him with the kinder, gentler Philippe, is there a hint at action. Coached by Athos, we wait eagerly for the switcheroo at Versailles when Philippe replaces Louis and claims his birthright. Of course we know that something will go awry or there wouldn’t be any point in making the film, which brings up why there was any point in making the film. Try on these three words: Leonardo DiCaprio. Okay, two if you count DiCaprio as one long word.

“I am a young king,” Louis cries out to D’Artagnan. “Then be a good king,” he cries back. “Eet cannot be dunn.”

With love & knishes from The Show Biz Maven.

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