- The Washington Times - Friday, May 24, 2002

An ironic title, "Enough," provides more than enough justification for sarcastic moviegoers to anticipate a banquet of cliches and howlers while observing Jennifer Lopez suffer and then exact hands-on vengeance as a vigilante wife called Slim.

Slow to appreciate that she has been a pushover for a sadistic Prince Charming, Billy Campbell as a wealthy psychopath named Mitch, the heroine becomes a fugitive from life-threatening luxury and privilege. With their little girl, Gracie (Tessa Allen), in tow, Slim flees to Seattle, upper Michigan and San Francisco with Mitch's minions in stressful pursuit.

Ultimately, Slim decides to stop running. She stashes Gracie with a friend (who evidently acquires convenient immunity from Mitch's seemingly omnipotent scrutiny), acquires dynamite martial-arts skills in San Francisco under an assumed name and returns to her spouse's modern pad in Southern California as Milady Cat Burglar and Score Settler.

The estranged couple resolve outstanding issues in hand-to-hand combat on turf that Slim stealthily has booby-trapped to aid her side of the punch-out. Indeed, it's amusing to see that the perfect crime deplored in "Murder by Numbers" returns in an approved form when conceived and executed by Miss Lopez.

It was my privilege to sample "Enough" at a press-junket screening in New York. The audience was salted liberally with people expected to identify in vociferous terms with Slim's trials and tribulations.

They obliged while the stage was being set for desperation and reprisal. There was a gasp when Mr. Campbell began to reveal his caddishness by rejecting Miss Lopez's demure appeal to join him in the shower.

There was justifiable shock when he slapped her and followed up with a punch that left a smear of blood across her lovely face, but, to my relief, there also was a refusal to swallow everything director Michael Apted and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan thought necessary to force down gullible sensibilities.

Slim's first escape is achieved with the help of confederates, notably Christopher Maher as a paternal Greek restaurant owner named Phil and Juliette Lewis as a bosom pal named Ginny.

Both she and Slim worked for Phil before Mitch wooed the heroine away from honest work as a waitress. The confederates are supposed to signal their supportive presence outside the house with a fake bird call, warbled in a way that obviously couldn't be heard if anyone's life depended on it, not to mention Slim's and Gracie's lives.

This brilliant detail got a rollicking laugh. The memory of it remained so precious that certain virtuoso whistlers in the audience did imitations later in the show, when Slim once again was fleeing from predators, in the Northwest, the Midwest, wherever. It definitely was the bird call that satisfies.

Although Phil is inserted as a surrogate father, Slim also calls on her long-lost real father, Fred Ward as a tycoon called Jupiter, based in San Francisco. After acting heartless to mislead us for one sequence, he comes around and appears to subsidize Slim's flight very handsomely.

By my unofficial eyeball count, one stack of $50 bills must amount to about $25,000 in getaway cash. I surmise that Slim would be speaking literally when all is said and done if she were given the simple, heartwarming line, "Thanks a million, Pop."

Given the generous turnaround and the fact that Jupiter seems a wealthy, rugged customer of some magnitude, one has reason to doubt the drift of the plot.

Mr. Ward's character must have access to considerable muscle of his own, probably enough to intimidate the supposedly intimidating Mitch. I wouldn't underestimate Fred Ward's resources if challenged to a spite match with Billy Campbell.

Alas, "Enough" prefers the belated Rocky route with aggrieved Slim, whose crisis can be solved only by going into training and getting that eye of the tiger.

Although Miss Lopez retains considerable thriller credit on the merits of "Out of Sight" and "The Cell," her new movie bears more resemblances to her summer dud of a year ago, "Angel Eyes," which accentuated the ramshackle and one-dimensional.

In addition to jeopardizing the potential father-daughter gratification by shortchanging Mr. Ward, "Enough" invites some active contempt by forcing its moppet character into perilous situations, caught in the line of fire between mother and father or subjected to possible whiplash and trauma from a flunky played by Noah Wyle, of all people, who rear-ends the heroine's getaway car during a prolonged road chase.

The ratings board must have been dozing through these blithe interludes when "Enough" was approved for a PG-13 rating.

Playing a rotter probably appealed to Mr. Campbell as an about-face after specializing in nice guys, but Mitch does nothing for him as a holiday of wickedness. Since the plot leapfrogs from first overture at the restaurant to wedding ceremony, the whole courtship period is an imponderable. Presumably, Mitch made some of his most characteristic moves during that fateful interval. But then how long should the star be expected to play dumb before awakening to treachery?

Mr. Campbell is entrusted with the definitive boomerang line in the movie: "Do you have any idea how bad things can get?" I'm sorry this wasn't used in the advertising, along with the inevitable reply, "As bad as 'Enough.'"


*1/2

TITLE: "Enough"

RATING: PG-13 (Arguably lenient, given the prevalence of episodes depicting domestic violence or terror, sometimes with a small child in the line of fire; systematic ominous and vengeful elements; occasional profanity and sexual candor)

CREDITS: Directed by Michael Apted.

RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

MAXIMUM RATING: 4 STARS


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