In Theaters: Obsessed

Movieline Score: 3
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"The hot ones are always crazy," goes the old maxim, and if we're to believe what we see in the movies, those hot ones are especially unhinged when their advances are rebuffed by a successful family man. Obsessed is the latest chapter in the saga of crazy white women and the men who come to fear them, and though it casually hops into bed with that genre, it does so with the disadvantage of a PG-13 rating. Obsessed's trailer promised us "the sexiest thriller of the year" and hinted at guilty pleasure potential, but the movie delivers nothing of the sort.

The opening credits appear over a montage of Derek Charles (Idris Elba) and his bride of three years Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles) moving into their large, perfect house with their cute son. Knowing as we do that this safe domestic space will become a suburban Thunderdome in the third act, director Steve Shill helpfully lingers on the rooms that will eventually serve as its steel cages (e.g. an unfinished attic).

Our monster is Lisa (Ali Larter), a blonde "temp-tress" who enters Derek's life seemingly at random, sharing an elevator ride. As if under the same spell currently befalling The Office's Angela and Kelly, where Elba has been guest starring, she becomes instantly fixated with the tall, dark, and handsome new executive in her life. Derek isn't like most men, however. Lisa's attentions don't flatter him, and, as the soundtracks nervous strings help to punctuate, she sorta creeps him out. But he's a nice guy -- not the most devastating of fatal flaws -- and gives her the time of day. Lisa assumes that a few lighthearted conversations are reason enough to jump Derek at the Christmas party. He spurns the offer, and with the scorning comes Lisa's fury.

From there, as you can imagine, it's a series of "Lisa, why are you here?" and "Lisa, you're really not supposed to be here," and various Beyoncé-delivered threats ("Just try me, bitch!") that elicited much hearty and vocal appreciation in our theater. And as the camp ratchets up throughout the film, hope for the climactic, weave-yanking showdown rises. Sadly, it's yet another of many squandered opportunities.

And perhaps this is the post-Obama zeitgeist talking, but there was no reference to race at all in the film. The only minority acknowledged is Derek's gay assistant, who finds himself on both sides of a punchline in the film's few attempts at humor.

Despite the valiant efforts of the actors -- especially Larter, who has to be aggressively sexual in a rating category that restricts nudity and blue language -- they can't rise above their stock characters. The only ambiguity in the film is whether or not Lisa rapes Derek in his hotel room, but after a few scenes and a montage of Derek earning back Sharon's trust, whatever happened there is forgiven and forgotten.

I wanted sex and violence and crazy, but came away disappointed with few cheesy laughs. I'm starting to understand why these women go ballistic after someone leads them on. Rating (out of 10): 3



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