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Nurse Betty (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 1, 2022


Starring Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Aaron Eckhart, Crispin Glover, Tia Texada, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Allison Janney, Harriet Samson Harris, Stephen Gilborn, Kathleen Wilhoite, Elizabeth Mitchell and Susan Barnes.

Screenplay by John C. Richards and James Flamberg.

Directed by Neil LaBute.

Distributed by USA Films. 110 minutes. Rated R.

It isn't easy making a good comedy about the mentally disturbed. (Just look at Me Myself & Irene!) The boundaries of humor and taste are not usually good bedfellows. This makes Nurse Betty a small miracle. Even more miraculous is that it is directed by Neil LaBute, the playwright who has specialized in films about the heartlessness of human beings with In the Company of Men and Your Friends & Neighbors.

This film is about Betty, a coffee shop waitress (Renée Zellweger) who sees her husband (LaBute regular Aaron Eckhart) murdered violently by a father-son hit man team (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock). Instead of dealing with it, she retreats into the fantasy world of her favorite soap opera and goes to California in search of the Doctor (Greg Kinnear) she loves on the show.

Nurse Betty becomes an enchanting road movie in which Zellweger puts in an Oscar-worthy performance as a naïf who through her own goodness gets all of her dreams, even when she realizes they aren't what she wants. In the end, though, it is a little tough to care for a film where your heroes are either insane, vain, or murderers. Nurse Betty would be a terrific movie if not for being sabotaged a little by its own premise. (5/00)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2000 All rights reserved. Posted: May 11, 2000.

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