Head Over Heels (2001) Movie Review

head over heels 2001 movie review

Title: Head Over Heels
Year: 2001
Genre: Comedy/Mystery/Romance
Play time: 1h 26min
Director: Mark Waters
Starring: Monica Potter, Freddie Prinze Jr., Shalom Harlow

The advertising for Head Over Heels made it seem watchable enough. I even remember looking forward to it for a time; it looked like a Gen-X remake of Rear Window which, if not the most promising concept I’ve ever heard, sounded like an interesting reprieve from the Teen Comedy Universe that is the multiplex. And the idea of Freddie Prinze Jr., a.k.a. Mr. Sweet Boy, playing a bad guy sounded just like the image turn-around the mired-down actor needed.

Head Over Heels (2001) – Hollywood Demonizing in Play

It didn’t take long after the opening credits for me to figure out that my hopes were about to be flushed down the drain. A scene in which Monica Potter, the female lead, has a “meet cute” (to borrow a term from Roger Ebert) with Prinze in the lobby of an apartment building and proceeds to be so shell-shocked by his charisma as to mangle every possible word into a phallic term convinced me that there was no way Prinze was going to wind up being a villain in this. His dogs are too cute and his demeanor too amiable, I thought, for a Hollywood movie to demonize him later. And what do you know? I was right.

Monica Potter plays Amanda, a restorer of Renaissance paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Her sexy friend is a lesbian, ya know, just because. She moves into an apartment with three supermodels and they spy on the charming fashion executive (Freddie Prinze Jr.) across the street. One night when Amanda is the only one looking, she swears she sees him club a young woman to death. “We will investigate him,” her model friends promise, but Amanda soon finds herself on an investigation of her own.

Needlessly Complicated by Mark Waters – Head Over Heels

From there the plot switches to autopilot, with nonsense about the Russian mafia and needlessly complicated contrivances playing backup to a witless, dumb romance between Amanda and potential-mass-murderer Prinze. You’d think that in a movie that wants to emulate Rear Window, the love affair in the center wouldn’t resemble something out of American Pie.

The screenwriters’ desperation is palpable at times, such as when the supermodels get stuck in a shower stall spying on Prinze’s character, uh, doing his business, and the pipes backfire, leaving the girls covered in poop. It’s impossible to make a scene like that funny because a) it’s been done countless times and b) PEOPLE GETTING COVERED IN SHIT FOR NO REASON JUST ISN’T FUNNY! It’s not! There’s nothing anyone can do about it, except put some sort of twist to the situation that would add some much-needed humor. Head Over Heels just smacks the scene in there and expects us to laugh.

Prinze is downright irritating here; even more so when we find out his character’s actual identity. His constant, imperturbable aw-shucks smile made me want to punch him in the face. Monica Potter fares slightly better, at least emerging through the proceedings with a bit of dignity intact. Barely: I don’t know how much dignity you can have after you paint Freddie Prinze Jr.’s face in a Renaissance painting.

I guess this answers the question: what do you get when you let the Hollywood movie mill borrow from Hitchcock? Head Over Heels, and it’s not pretty.

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