Opened: Aug. 30, 1996 | Rated: R
If ever there was a movie that captured what it is for a guy to be in the throes of a mid-life crisis with a pretty young thing in the vicinity, "Carried Away" is it.
The problem is, you can't make such a mid-life crisis movie that isn't just plain tacky, what with all the necessary nudity and lingering "Lolita" lines.
In "Carried Away," Dennis Hopper is a high school teacher in a teeny tiny farm town when the gorgeous new student comes to town.
As played by the very talented and sweetly seductive Amy Locane ("School Ties," "Airheads"), it's easy to see why the sweet, freckle-faced 17-year-old Catherine is impossible to resist.
What doesn't make much sense is why she's chasing Hopper, and old man with a bad leg from a farming accident.
Hopper is literally the best he's been in years in this departure from his dial-a-psycho persona. He is a lonely man who takes care of his frail, sickly mother and dates the other teacher in the two-room school house (Amy Irving).
The interpersonal dynamics all around are beautifully played, what with the girlfriend, the mother and Catherine's father (Gary Busey) all eventually finding out about the very hot affair between teacher and student. But the almost rampant nudity begins to distract and detract from the story after everybody gets into the act.
Locane doffing her duds at the slightest provocation is distracting enough -- she's is a stunning specimen of physical beauty -- but when Hopper and Irving both start running around in their birthday suits, anything they have to say goes pretty much out the window. Dennis Hopper naked? Dennis Hopper NAKED?
Another distraction comes when Busey confronts Hopper over his daughter's lack of innocence. Due to their respective track records, you're so expecting to see dueling lunatics that the fact that they have a reasonable, adult conversation comes as a shock.
In the end, the distractions over-power the story, which is really quite good. Had director Bruno Barreto been a little more conservative, "Carried Away" might have been a formidable performance-driven piece.
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