Living Out Loud
*** GM
Starring: Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, Martin Donovan, Richard Schiff, Eddie Cibrian, Rachael Leigh Cook


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Ladies and gents, hold on to your hats! Queen Latifah can SING! I was thrilled to find out the rapper extraordinaire also comes with a good set of pipes on her, too - not to mention an acting ability that never got to be fully explored in what little of her sitcom I managed to catch. I like this woman.

Queen plays Liz, an aspiring jazz singer and regular at the club that Judith (Holly Hunter) begins to come to after her divorce from the womanizing ex-hubbie villain, since she's one of Liz's few ardent fans and she needs to find a life again. In her quest to avoid squandering her newfound freedom by sitting around and moping in her spacious apartment, she also manages to befriend Pat (Danny DeVito), the elevator operator in her building that is an aspiring businessman that currently owes a good deal of money in gambling debts, saw his marriage fall apart and his daughter die tragically. Two lonely devastated people coming together, although not quite in the way you'd expect from Hollywood.

Judith is the centerpiece, however, and Holly Hunter plays it well. We watch her slow but steady acceptance of being alone as it eventually turns into a celebration of being independent and having no need to rely on a spouse/significant other/man to make life worth living. It's a slow-paced, easy-going film that meanders into inexplicable territory occasionally and makes use of a cute wish-fulfillment gimmick that Director Richard LaGravenese thankfully doesn't overuse, and it does a good job of showcasing one woman's ability to start realizing that she's the only one that can make herself happy, and no back-door Lothario or would-be rebound relationship is necessary.

Of course, this sort of discovery is a bit easier when you're independently wealthy enough to hire some doofus from "Sunset Beach" to show up and rub your naked butt a lot, to live in a huge apartment building with a friendly elevator operator that has nothing better to do than console you when you're drunk, sad and can't sleep, and to wear a bunch of flowing scarves and such to make you look more regal and rich, yet you never get mugged when wandering around the streets of New York with big shiny pearls on. It also doesn't hurt when you can get your fill of motherhood by being a pediatrician and still be the swingin' touchy-feely dance club gal all night.

The message isn't quite as universal as it could be, but it comes across nonetheless and it's a good one to take to heart. Don't let other people determine your own self-worth. Don't let other people determine how secure you are. Friends are great, but be-all end-all relationships are not anything close to what they're cracked up to be, and no one else is going to be able to make all your dreams come true. That's your job. Realize that, move on, and things'll get better. Try it. You'll like it.

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