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The Mexican

Director:Gore Verbinski
Writer:J.H. Wyman
DreamWorks; R; 123 minutes
Release:3/01
Cast:Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini

The Mexican isn't a person, it's a gun. An antique one. And it's enough to send the relationship between mob slouch Jerry Walbach (Brad Pitt) and his radiant psychotherapist girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts) into serious trouble. Although Jerry wants out of the Family, he needs to retrieve the vintage pistol in Mexico before the break is possible. Fed-up with his shenanigans, Sam ditches her wayward man and heads to Las Vegas to start life anew. While monolinguistic Jerry faces a batch of hooligan treasure-recovery problems, Sam gets kidnapped by a sensitive mobster named Leroy.

Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts sharing the screen for the first time means star-power—often used to transform a bad movie into a best-selling one. The Mexican is respectable, however. The box-office confidence translates into relaxed performances from all involved. Director Gore Verbinski dares to be quirky and let the characters take control. Roberts and Pitt are in different countries for most of the movie, so their screen-time together is accordingly slim. The best moments arise between Sam and her kidnapper. Played by James Gandolfini of The Sopranos, Leroy's character is a calculated attempt to be the most sensitive gangster ever portrayed on the big screen. After De Niro's gun shy tough guy in Analyze This and Morgan Freeman's philosophical hitman in Nurse Betty, the only thing left to do is make Leroy gay. Samantha assists his outing; after that they're fast friends.

The Mexican manages a certain offbeat allure. Perfect matinee fare.


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