THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Is there a Hall of Fame for stupid movies? If not there should be; if there is, I'd like to nominate Enough. This low-rent Sleeping With the Enemy easily ranks as one of the most imbecilic films of the year. It's one of those pictures where all the characters are idiots and the plot would be resolved in five minutes if any of them had half a brain. Just how dumb do they think we in the audience are?

The movie divides itself into sections, all of which begin with a title card. So the first thing you see after the Columbia Pictures logo is the word "hey" filling up the screen. (The word "huh?" would have been more like it.) We then meet the improbably named Slim (Jennifer Lopez), a waitress who meets and falls in love with Mitch (Billy Campbell). Mitch is the perfect guy: attractive, caring, wealthy. In fact, he's so wealthy and powerful that, when Slim sees a house she likes, Mitch hands the owner a check and tells him that he will move. Then, out of the blue, Mitch turns into an abusive jerk who has guilt-free affairs with other women. So what's the motivation for him to become a wife-beater? The movie never bothers to tell us that. Who knows - maybe he's just the son of Satan.

Jennifer Lopez plans to kick the ass of her abusive husband (Billy Campbell) in Michael Apted's Enough
But leave him Slim does. Her coworkers at the diner help her plan an elaborate late-night escape in which she rigs a water bottle to the toilet so that it sounds like she's peeing, when in reality she's grabbing her young daughter and sneaking out the front door. Because he is one of those psychic movie villains who always knows what Slim is going to do before she does it, Mitch foils the escape attempt and beats her brutally. Meanwhile, those of us in the audience sit dumbfounded, wondering why she didn't just leave when he went to work the next morning.

That - in a nutshell - is Enough. Domestic violence is a very serious problem, and I have no sympathy for men who beat their wives. The film has nothing to say about this subject, though. It's just a bunch of stupid people doing stupid things stupidly. Need more examples of how insipid this movie is? Consider the following:

* Slim eventually escapes and moves to a series of different towns. No matter where she goes, Mitch is able to find her. How? By hiring thugs to pose as FBI agents and track her down. The fact that these fake agents all look like psychotics doesn't keep Slim's best friend Joe (Dan Futterman) from letting them into his apartment.

* Later, Slim is being chased in a car by one of Mitch's crooked associates. The man tries to run her car off the road. When that doesn't work, he pulls up alongside her and yells, "Get out of the car!" Has anyone anywhere in the history of the world actually ever gotten out of the car when a killer has yelled, "Get out of the car!"? Did the moron really think this would work?

* Because this is a movie about a psychic wife abuser who employs phony FBI agents, Slim knows that Mitch will eventually find her, even when she moves to yet another town and changes her name one more time. When he does finally show up at her new house, she shoots him in the face with her mace-spraying wristwatch (apparently borrowed from Batman) and then traps him inside via a Rube Goldberg contraption. Basically, she pulls down on a water can hanging from the front porch and a series of pulleys drops a bar over the front door, locking Mitch inside. This is good because he will never think to go through a window.

* Slim - by a remarkable coincidence - has a rich father who never knew of her existence. When he finds out about her dilemma, he ponies up the cash for her to train with a self-defense expert. This trainer is also psychic, as he teaches Slim the exact moves she will need to defend herself from Mitch. Enough is particularly shameless in the way it telegraphs everything here. When the trainer shows her what to do if Mitch ever grabs her by the throat, you know perfectly well that she will eventually get to use that very move. In fact, you sit there waiting for it to happen. Then the guy drops a real puzzler. He tells Slim that Mitch is a "coward" and that, because he's a coward, he will try to kick her when she's down. "And when that happens," the trainer tells Slim, "you will know what you must do." We, of course, don't know what she'll do, which is a guarantee that the movie will end with Mitch trying to kick her when she's down so that she can use the secret move.

* Of course, before she gets the chance to use any of her newly acquired knowledge, Slim breaks into Mitch's house in the middle of the night and hides in the rafters. (Again, why not wait until he goes to work?) She spends the day getting ready for her attack. Then - after making all the preparations she will need to get rid of her husband once and for all - Slim stops and slicks herself up with Vaseline! There's no apparent reason for this, other than to please the Lopez-hungry men in the audience. I don't think I've laughed so hard all year.

As you can see, I got easily frustrated by the predictability and implausibility of the picture. I can't believe that talented people like director Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist, Coal Miner's Daughter) and writer Nicholas Kazan (Reversal of Fortune) could make something this bad. With so many howlers, it would be easy to think that Enough is the funniest comedy ever made about domestic violence. I've known women who have been abused by their husbands. It's not funny, and their plight deserves more than this crass, offensive, one-note revenge picture can ever possibly offer.

( out of four)

Enough is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of domestic violence, some sensuality and language. The running time is 1 hour and 56 minutes.

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