Picks and Pans Review: Beautiful Girls

updated 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, Mira Sorvino, Lauren Holly

Self-Pitying Louts would be a more accurate title for this lame comedy built around a feckless group of old high school buddies in a little Massachusetts town. It's like a dim-witted Diner, with guys who drink incessantly, refer to having sex as "banging," call women's breasts "racks," yet babble philosophically about romance.

The plot is triggered by the homecoming of Hutton, who is making a fitful living as a lounge pianist in New York City. Unfortunately, at 35, Hutton looks much older than his classmates—not to mention being saddled with a role that gives him a crush on a 13-year-old, the precocious Natalie Portman. Meanwhile snowplow driver Dillon is having an affair with high school girlfriend Holly, even though she is married and he's dating a loving Sorvino. Then there's Michael Rapaport, who pines for waitress Martha Plimpton while lusting after Thurman, the visiting cousin of a local barkeep named Stinky. (Rapaport is at least amusing as a guy only a half step up from Seinfeld's Kramer on the self-awareness ladder.)

Through all this Peyton Placey melodrama, director Ted Demme gives the film no sense of place beyond Hutton's Celtics jacket. Nor does he control Rosie O'Donnell, who galumphs around as a self-important beautician. (R)

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