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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

Show Biz Maven

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Pint-tanic disaster

Click to Enlarge Reviewed by The Show Biz Maven

Dramamine should help quell your seasickness as you navigate through James Cameron’s celebrated epic wreck, “Titanic,” a $200 million extravaganza so lacking in scintillating dialogue that it’s a wonder the ship sank. But now the Maven has revealed the ending and for this she is sorry. It’s just that James Cameron (“Terminator,” “Rambo,”), who wrote and directed, should have known better than to trust the pint-tanic acting of Leonardo DiCaprio. As the film’s star, he lacks the charm, charisma, and most of all the believability for the role of an adventure seeker and lover. Otherwise, he’s perfect. Kate Winslet, his leading lady, fares better.

While it’s no secret that the movie is headed for monetary success, Cameron surprisingly has received praise for miscasting, with DiCaprio being nominated for everything except the Nobel Peace Prize. Here the Maven suggests a PETA award for the actor who insisted that his pet lizard named Blizzard accompany him to the movie set in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, where he was nearly squished by a truck. Stunt lizards being what they are, it’s a pity that something along these lines was not thought of for Cameron’s character Jack Dawson, who wades us through 3 hours and 15 minutes of sophomoric dialogue, without managing to convey the true catastrophe of the ship’s sinking into the icy North Atlantic seas in 1912.

Not since Mad magazine’s “Poopseidon Adventure” has the Maven unintentionally laughed so hard. Perhaps “Titanic” would have been funnier if Shelley Winters had signed on, instead of being stuck with two star-crossed lovers (DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) who cannot carry a motion picture. Winslet, so lovely in “Sense and Sensibility,” plays a once wealthy Philadelphia society girl named Rose, who is escorted on board by her straightlaced nudnick mother (Frances Fisher) and snooty but rich fiancée (Billy Zane). Although Winslet wears fetching costumes that include a chiffon parasol and plumed hat, she appears in desperate need of an old-fashioned Westmore make-up man, especially when pitted against DiCaprio who looks about 15.

Since $200 million was lavished here and there, it’s puzzling why a few hundred dollars, let’s say, was not set aside for toupees, specifically for Billy Zane. With different hairlines and Dracula-like eyebrows, it’s not a wonder Rose runs from him. Enter DiCaprio in the guise of a penniless artist who nonetheless has lived all over the world, but who still resembles an extra from a “Gidget” movie. (beach accent optional) Please tell the Maven how Rose could be attracted to such a person. Could it be Jack’s talent in drawing? Hardly, as we glimpse his sketches of nudes in Paris, proving that it’s not enough to know the names of the great Impressionists when your work gives the impression of Art 101.

Speaking of 101, Cameron throws in a silly story of Rose, now a centenarian, who hears about the raising of the Titanic by some fortune hunters, and arrives on the scene to retell her story on board the ill-fated ship. Actress Gloria Stuart, a spring chicken in her 80s, is engaging as the elderly Rose, yet doesn’t bear any resemblance in speech or looks to Winslet.

The modern day tale is lame and predictably peppered with witty dialogue such as, “You’re so full of s--t, boss.” Actually, this should have been DiCaprio’s response when he was handcuffed to a rail and left to drown. Rose miraculously locates him below deck. I say miraculously, because she has sloshed through the cold torrents of water that even Russian swimmers would run from, only to realize that she cannot free her lover. “I’ll be right here,” he tells her as she sloshes away for help. Hey, don’t laugh. Think it’s easy to rescue someone when everyone on board is running for their lives?

“Titanic,” the vertical nightmare, keeps your attention as expensive china crashes and champagne glasses break, bodies whirl and fall overboard, and the stern with huge propellers rises straight up and out of the water. “Nothing on earth could come between them” reads a current ad. Well, nothing except poor dialogue, and this the Maven says with love & knishes.

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