click for new
Festivale online magazine
|How Stella Got Her Groove Back|
When their initial thoughts and ideas have been developed, scriptwriters are often faced with the well-known problem of what to do next. From previous examples, we've discovered that writers can introduce new characters, change the setting drastically or yield an unexpected scenario - anything except lay down their guns and die. But in the case of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, no innovative artillery was ever loaded. And around half way through the film, I was left open-jawed as I witnessed a horribly under written first half transform into a horribly over written second.
The first example of how badly under written the beginning of Terry McMillan's script is lies in the title of the film. When it reads How Stella Got Her Groove Back, one must pose the question of whether she lost it in the first place. Stella (Angela Bassett) is an amazingly attractive 40-year-old who has a respectable job, which rakes in the dollars. When she takes a much-needed holiday, Stella picks up a 21-year-old Jamaican man, Winston (Taye Diggs), and eventually takes him back home. This in itself is not too much to digest, as the notion of suspending disbelief is welcomed in a romantic fantasy of this sort.
But McMillan expects us to believe that Stella's "groove" is gone by simply piecing together a few scenes of her at work, and quoting a few lines of dialogue about her having to get out more. A major oversight aren't the words I'm looking for - a half assed job, perhaps, are better.
By the time the second half begins, we're already more than just a little fed up. Stella and Winston sing a boring chorus of "should we or should we not stay together", and that ultimately lasts for the rest of the ordeal.
The fact that I saw one of the first prints of this film in Australia is nothing for me to gloat about. Of the thirteen or so viewers in the cinema, only four - including me - were left seated for its final moments. And who can blame them, since this punishing ordeal never relents from butt numbing boredom.
To demonstrate the weaknesses in McMillan's screenplay, the film's gags are simply not funny, and its most serious moments are way too funny. An ambulance driver casually talking on a phone whilst a patient suffers inside is not my idea of humor, and my idea of a serious moment does not involve two adults arguing about whether or not they should stay together for the tenth time. That's why I can easily imagine why McMillan's novel (of the same name) would be a much more pleasurable experience. At least, you could probably take it seriously.
|From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 1 star|
|Just the facts:
Title: How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
|The Players: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, Regina King, Suzzanne Douglas, Michael J. Pagan||Official website|
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.|
No other uses are permitted without the prior written consent of owner.
Use of the material in violation of the foregoing may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
disclaimers | contact the editor | Festivale revision history
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: Jun-1998 Last updated: Last tested: 3-Jul-2014 Last compiled: 3-Jul-2014
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)