Grand Canyon Review

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While his wife (McDonnell) finds and 'adopts' an abandoned baby, Kline is a wealthy white man who breaks down in South Central one night, rescued from unsavoury locals by Glover. Woodard and Parker are lonely in the big L.A., while Martin - a producer of violent films - gets a karmic dose of reality.


Touted upon release as a Big Chill for the nineties, this glance at the traumas of living in the metropolis of Los Angeles does indeed centre around a group of people dealing with their individual mid-life crisies, and reunites Chill-director Kasdan with star Kevin Kline.

Unfortunately, that's where the similarities end. In fact, the first few scenes of the movie more closely resemble The Bonfire Of The Vanities, with Kevin Kline taking a wrong turn in his Mercedes driving home one night, and ending up breaking down in a deserted South Central LA street. Saved in the nick of time from a gang of hoodlums by tow-truck driver Danny Glover, Kline begins to realise how threatening life in the big city really is.

The plot twists and turns between comedy and soap opera drama as new characters are introduced to show different aspects of Los Angeles: Kline's wife, the rather wooden Mary McDonnell, discovers an abandoned baby and "adopts" it; Kline's secretary (Parker) and friend (Woodard) are coping with the loneliness of being single working women; Glover has to deal with his sister's family living in one of LA's rougher areas; and Kline's best friend, Steve Martin, a producer of violent movies, finds himself on the recieving end of the kind of violence he glorifies. Each scene produces a new catastrophe for one of the characters, and although Kasdan and his co-writer, wife Meg, manage to successfully intertwine the lives of the six characters, it often seems that they have added one disaster too many to the recipe.

Steve Martin walks away with the comic plaudits as the money-minded producer, making you wish his role was larger, and Woodard, Glover and Kline all add realism to a plot that sometimes defies belief.

Although followers of Kasdan's earlier work may be disappointed by what is essentially an amusing fortysomething movie, fans of soap opera will want to go back for more.