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Rated R · 113 minutes
Adapting David Mamet's play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, screenwriters Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue have done an admirable job of turning an unfilmable piece into a polished commercial product (1986), yet so much of the flavor of the original has been lost that you wonder why they bothered with the Mamet in the first place. Mamet's play, about the romantic disappointments of a group of Chicago singles, depends on shocks of recognition—the sense that you've done that, you've said that—and to that degree it's deliberately banal. Mamet's poetic banality works well onstage, where there's no sense of a specific, real-world context that would make it seem bloodless or trite; on film, where the sense of reality is all but inevitable, the banality is, well . . . banal. The shocks of recognition are largely absorbed by the standard narrative structure that replaces Mamet's blackouts; the characters, instead of functioning as archetypes, look underwritten, half alive. As the envious, destructive best friends of the central couple, Jim Belushi and (especially) Elizabeth Perkins have the actor's know-how to fill in the gaps, but as the lovers, Rob Lowe and Demi Moore are hopelessly pallid. Ed Zwick directed, efficiently but without much creative drive.

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