Picks and Pans Review: Don Juan Demarco

updated 04/17/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/17/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway

Once you get over the initial shock of just how jumbo Brando's belly has become—we're talking floating tractor tire here—you will discover plenty of other diversions worthy of attention in this winningly offbeat comedy. Although slight, Don Juan DeMarco is sweet-natured and features zesty performances by Brando (more engaged here than he has been in other recent films) and, especially, Depp.

It's Depp who, with exactly the right mix of vulnerability and bravado, plays the film's title character, a young man convinced he is Don Juan, the legendary 14th-century Spanish nobleman and amatory expert. "I am the world's greatest lover," he boasts. After climbing atop a billboard and threatening suicide, Depp is sent to the loony bin where Brando, a weary psychiatrist, gets his case.

As the putative Don Juan tells the doctor his story, Brando finds himself drawn to Depp's passion. The shrink is moved to jump-start his own stalled life, exercising (the brief glimpse of Brando pumping iron is alone worth the price of admission) and reconnecting with his longtime wife (Dunaway, who shares an amusing, pajama-clad, sex scene with Brando).

Although the film's basic conceit, that the insane are really sane and it's the rest of us who lack imagination, is familiar territory (Harvey, King of Hearts) and essentially specious, Don Juan is carried by the enthusiasm of its leads and its gentle charm.

(It's a Puzzlement Department: Brando has a pronounced lisp here; whether it is affected for the part or due to recent dental work is unclear.)(R)

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