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Overall Rating
2.56

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 6.94%
Just Average: 25%
Pretty Crappy34.72%
Sucks: 20.83%

7 reviews, 30 user ratings


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Brokedown Palace
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by EricDSnider

"Brokedown is right."
2 stars

Watching "Brokedown Palace" is like watching several different movies at once, and none of them are very good.

Full of themes and characters that are introduced and then go nowhere, the movie is melancholy, almost dreary, as it tries to make us ponder the question: What would you do for a friend?

Recent high-school grads and life-long chums Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) and Alice (Claire Danes) want to take a trip to celebrate their freedom before going to college. The plan is to go to Hawaii, but rebellious Alice thinks that's too ordinary and convinces strait-laced Darlene to go with her to Thailand instead, even while telling her parents she's going to Hawaii.

In Thailand, the two giggly teens embarrass themselves and indeed all of America as they gag on local food and complain about not being able to speak Thai. They are the model of typical "ugly Americans," though they are certainly very attractive ugly Americans.

Up to this point, the movie is a female buddy picture, albeit not a very fun one. Then they meet up with Nick Parks (Daniel Lapaine), a handsome Australian con man who beds demure Darlene in a matter of seconds and invites both gals to Hong Kong. At the airport, though, authorities find about a ton of narcotics in Darlene's backpack, put there by the Aussie, who was so handsome no one would have ever suspected him of being evil, but who might actually be in cahoots with the corrupt Thai government (Plot Element #792 that is briefly toyed with then abandoned). The girls, now framed up but good, get tossed into a Thai prison.

So now it's a prison movie, complete with snarling guards and The Mean Girl whose only aim is to bully the other prisoners. Enter the lawyer, Hank (Bill Pullman), an American expatriate who sort of likes to help people, but who sort of just likes the money that comes from rescuing Americans from the Thai justice system. It's hard to tell what his motivations are, really, though he is not the only character to suffer from this phenomenon.

The noble and heroic Hank hits dead ends and gives up, and so the movie is back to being about prison again. Eventually, one of the girls makes a sacrifice in order to get the other one freed, thus proving her true friendship and redeeming her of her checkered past.

Problem is, our knowledge of the two main characters is based almost entirely on what we're TOLD about them, and not on what we see. We don't care that she feels redeemed for saving her friend, because we never saw that she was in much need of redemption in the first place.

The movie tries several avenues, but usually fails at them. It tries to make us wonder if maybe one of the girls IS guilty, but that doesn't work. Lou Diamond Phillips gets high billing as a DEA officer, but that goes nowhere. Seemingly dozens of characters are revealed to be corrupt, but none of those paths are ever pursued. It's like we're watching the brainstorming session for a movie, and not the actual movie.

Beckinsale and Danes, for what it's worth, do their best at portraying characters that are woefully underwritten. And in the end, it's that lack of character development that kills the movie. For while the film wants us to rejoice at one character's literal freedom from prison and another's metaphoric freedom from past sins, we can do little but shrug our shoulders at the fate of two girls who, for all intents and purposes, were actually pretty equally two-dimensional anyway.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1212&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/30/03 03:52:00
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User Comments

2/17/10 art IT STINK"S! 1 stars
9/21/08 Shaun Wallner Boring! 2 stars
6/06/08 PAUL SHORTT DECENT FILM THAT EXPLORES FRIENDSHIP AS A SCHOOL OF VIRTUE WHERE TRUTH & HONESTY ARE TESTED 3 stars
1/13/07 Dave P. The Royal Thai Police are not as stupid as this movie portrays them. 2 stars
11/17/04 jessica i like it. I vegged out to it. It reminded me of my devilish days as a teenager. 4 stars
10/30/04 Vince Not bad, not great. 4 stars
10/26/04 silver the acting was good, but everything else was bad! what is up with the ending? 1 stars
7/10/04 Confessions Of A Teenage Trauma Queen C'mon Eric, being picky eaters who don't speak Thai is enough to make you "ugly Americans"? 3 stars
3/01/04 Get cast's names right, for pete's sake It's Kate Beckinsale, NOT Beckinsdale! Movie so-so. Depressed see the Thai that binds. 3 stars
9/22/03 Paul I really liked the drama from the director. 5 stars
6/30/03 Dr. Bitterpants Attention next film festival: A double feature with this and "Caged Heat" is a bad idea. 2 stars
4/30/03 WALMART iz KRAP Dis movie wus Krap, but Kate Beckinsale (a name no one's ever heard of) iz still pretty hot 2 stars
5/16/02 Darlene Groetz The movie where Claire Danes became a zombie of the tragic wands. 3 stars
3/27/02 Pretty good! I liked it a lot! But the whole Cockroach thing...GROSS! 5 stars
2/26/02 Good God!!!!!!!! Maybe if this movie was a little less friendhisp & more lesbianism, it coulda not sucked! 2 stars
7/09/01 Piz very engaging and well performed..was a little "out there" at times. 4 stars
6/19/01 hmmm This movie is not about lesbianism you moron, it's about friendship. Grow up. 5 stars
4/24/01 Cruelhuntsman Kate and Amanda make the film special. 5 stars
2/26/01 Peter Lloyd A little bit lightweight, but a very watchable film 4 stars
1/28/01 Ashley Snelgrove This is a wicked movie, this and "save the last dance" are my favorites 5 stars
12/06/00 robyn so sad in the end!! 5 stars
12/04/00 Laura THE COCKROACH WENT IN HER EAR!!! IT"S SO OBVIOUS! 5 stars
10/01/00 Madoc69 a good cautionary tale of travel and trust 3 stars
3/13/00 brentley Lackluster movie. Rent it if you have no other choice. 2 stars
1/05/00 Joel Harwood What a movie 5 stars
1/01/00 Anthony Burroughs Nothing to brag about here, see it for Claire Danes 3 stars
12/08/99 Mike Nugget Yep...the lump in my throat .....Claire Danes is defintely good at what she does 5 stars
9/04/99 Weird Andy I hoped to see Claire Danes caned. Let down by Hollywood yet again. 2 stars
8/21/99 Tristynn Clare is amazing. Very scary movie..must see for any potential travellers to Asia..WOW!! 4 stars
8/18/99 David U. (davidu@eciti.com) Sucks Ass 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Aug-1999 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Dec-1999




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