Picks and Pans Review: Rudy

updated 04/07/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/07/2003 01:00AM

USA (Sun., March 30, 8 p.m. ET)

James Woods, who plays Rudolph Giuliani in this TV movie, has said that he did everything in his power to make the former federal prosecutor and New York City mayor look heroic. He didn't entirely succeed.

The heroism is there, all right, in Woods's portrayal of the protagonist on and after Sept. 11, 2001. Giuliani is seen as calm, controlled and compassionate in dealing with the agony caused by the terrorist attacks. But in the flashbacks to his earlier career, which take up most of the film, Giuliani is self-righteous and overbearing at almost every turn. Constantly haranguing subordinates, he's scarcely more considerate of his second wife, Donna Hanover (Penelope Ann Miller). This may well be an accurate depiction, but Woods's acting is so hyperintense that his character's temper seems too hot to be credible. We're left to conclude that Giuliani was a jerk till he suffered prostate cancer, his city was attacked and he turned into a mensch. Surely it's not so simple.

BOTTOM LINE: Unconvincing

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