Grand Canyon

Although there’s a pointed and perhaps ironic reference to Sullivan’s Travels toward the end of this long New Age state-of-the-union address, this is paradoxically Lawrence Kasdan’s own version of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the naive message movie that Sullivan’s Travels makes mincemeat of. Ridiculously ambitious, though often likable and touching in its sincerity, this very southern California film takes on two extended urban familiesone (including Kevin Kline and Mary McDonnell) white and reasonably well-to-do, the other (including Danny Glover) black and besieged by ghetto violenceand many supplementary characters (Steve Martin, Mary-Louise Parker, Alfre Woodard) to worry over What We’re Coming To. Scripted by Kasdan and his wife Meg, this resembles at times a topical talkfest like Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1951 People Will Talk, but without Mankiewicz’s acerbic bite. There are two striking dream sequences, a nicely handled driving lesson, and a very engaging performance by Glover. The maddening mixture of integrity and well-intentioned wrongheadedness at least offers a welcome alternative to the avoidance of social issues in mainstream Hollywood. (JR)

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