Outside Providence
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1999; Rated R; 102 Minutes

Shawn Hatosy: Timothy Dunphy
Jon Abrahams: Drugs Delaney
Tommy Bone: Jackie Dunphy
Jack Ferver: Irving Waltham
Adam Lavorgna: Tommy the Wire
Jesse Leach: Decenz

Produced by Michael Corrente, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Randy Finch, Billy Heinzerling, Libby Langdon, Marisa Polvino, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein; Directed by Michael Corrente; Screenwritten by Peter Farrelly, Michael Corrente and Bobby Farrelly

Review Uploaded

Written by DAVID KEYES

"Outside Providence" is about a guy who decides to send his high school senior off into a fancy upstate prep school, hopefully to knock some common sense and, hopefully, a sense of moral values into his screwed-up life. For those unfamiliar with the detail I have mentioned, this is what you call a setup for a "coming-of-age" movie, which is something usually hammered together by countless blue-collar clichés and predictable twists. From the brothers Farrelly, the men responsible for "Dumber And Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary," one would expect an outrageous yet extraordinarily effective film to be salvaged from this rehashed idea. In the long hall, these Farrelly brothers greatly achieve something here, without it ever actually being any good.

The movie, I guess, will come to quite a shock to most people, considering that it is made by two brilliant writers, and has just about as much flavor as a rotten lemon. Coming-of-age stories can work, even if predictable, as long as there is a script of decent writing to grasp notable attention. But the Farrelly brothers approach total incompetence here in various ways; the script constantly maps out territory that has been discovered by older, better movies, and their gags lack complete amusement. Some moments, sadly, even try to generate two completely different emotional responses: either moving drama, or hilarious comedy, both of which aren't even written with the wit or precision of a typical Farrelly brother project. The movie is a disappointment, yes, but even more significantly, it is a laughless, horrendous and inadequate hunk of junk. It should be taken in as evidence that all great filmmakers can make a wrong move once in awhile.

Shawn Hatosy plays Timothy Dunphy, a high school senior in Pawtucket, R.I, who enjoys nothing about his life--except for sitting atop a water tower and smoking dope with his local riffraff friends. During an incident in which Shawn crashes into a police car, however, his father Old Man Dunphy becomes determined to set his kid's standards straight, even if it means sending him off to a prep school. Alec Baldwin, the man who is cast as Old Man Dunphy, sits in his chair and slurs out each syllable with over-stressed effort, which all sound, supposedly, like part of the typical Rhode Island accent. Rhode Island may have a lawsuit on their hands.

The movie makes its biggest mistake when Dunphy arrives at the Academy. Here, we are expected to see him learn respect, morals, social decency and discipline from those who are a part of this elusive school. Instead, what we get is essentially the same situation--kids smoking pot in the most noticeable places, only this time, they can afford to have anyone rubbed out who rats on them. None of the people Dunphy makes friends with have any kind of moral upbringing, which defeats the whole purpose of the coming-of-age concept.

Does the movie have any merit? A little. There is an extremely interesting character in the movie with an eye-patch and three legs, whom Old Man Dunphy never lets in the house. The other positive influence is Dunphy's little brother, who is confined to a wheelchair, yes, but nonetheless finds comfort in doing a neighborhood paper route. There are even a couple of effective jokes, one of which is more of a quirky explanation than a gag, in which the script tells us how one of the prep students got the nickname of "Jizz."

We have all seen the work of the Farrelly brothers--some of us admire it, others of us despise it. One thing that everyone can agree on, however, is that they have talent when devising smart premises and matching them up against zany, gawky humor situations. The last thing we should have ever expected from them, sadly, is "Outside Providence," which reeks so eminently that we find ourselves wanting to refill a Glade plug-in.

© 1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
All published materials contained herein are owned by their respective authors and cannot be reprinted, either in their entirety or in selection, without the expressed written consent of the writers.

© 2007 Cinemaphile.org.