Snapshots (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Split vote. One thumb up, one down.

Scoop's notes in white:

Here's the premise.

Julie Christie plays a Moroccan woman. With blond hair, blue eyes, and a phoneme-perfect Hungarian accent.

She lives in L.A., where the story begins with Julie and her daughter (Carmen Chaplin) debating whether to attend her ex-husband's re-marriage to a gorgeous young bim. Daughter is upset at her dad about the whole "young trophy wife" thing, but mom is not fazed by it in the least. She is thrilled to be out of an arranged marriage to a man she never loved, happy to see her husband find love, even a little envious that she has none for herself. The daughter asks whether her mom was ever in love. Well, yes, she says, when she lived in North Africa, there was this American boy backpacking through ... but he was only there for a few days, then left, never to return.

That thought is dropped for the moment.

The daughter feels that she needs some time away from her family and familiar circumstances, a chance to explore the world and her own feelings. She heads off to Europe and decides to settle for a while in Amsterdam. A series of events leads her to the bookstore of an elderly American hippie, with whom she forms a deep friendship. He hopes their affection will develop into love, but she doesn't think of him that way.

Now, for you mathematically inclined, here's a word problem. What are the odds that the person the daughter would connect with, as her #1 friend and confidante, the man who falls in love with her, would be the one guy her mother ever loved? Oh, I'm not denying that the man who once loved the mother would fall in love again with the daughter, who was about the same age as he remembered the mother. That part makes perfect sense.  What is crazy is the mechanism that gets them together. Remember, that guy could have been in L.A., or Shanghai, or Katmandu or Capetown. Since nobody knew that the guy was in Amsterdam, and the daughter only ended up in Amsterdam on a last-minute whim, I calculate the odds at about one in six or seven billion. That's how many people there are in the world. She went to a random city and befriended a random guy based on random circumstances. (She was being assailed in the streets. She was saved by a hooker. The hooker took the girl to her kindest client - the hippie.) And that guy turned out to be he mother's one true long-lost love.

Of all the gin joints in all the cities in all the world, she had to walk into his!

In other words, given those kind of odds and the DNA evidence from a famous celebrity trial, it is possible to conclude that the plot is less likely than OJ's innocence!

Then, what totally floored me was when the hippie went over to the daughter's boat, thinking he might get laid. He found that the girl was gone and he was to have dinner with the mom - obviously a matchmaking situation -  and when he found that mom was his one true love, he had no questions about whether he had been set up from the very beginning or something. Wouldn't you have assumed that the mother knew where he was all along, and had sent the daughter as an advance scout or something? After all he's only truly loved one woman in his entire life. No. No questions. He just accepted it as the natural order of things.

The old geezer ex-lovers do eventually get together, so it has a heart-warming if implausible finale, but I shore 'nuff had to go through a lot of pain to get there.

  • More strange casting: Burt Reynolds played the hippie. I spent the first half of the movie thinking he was supposed to be brain-damaged, but I guess that was not so. Burt himself contributed something to my impression, but the main offender was the doofus who played Burt in the Moroccan flashbacks, who seemed to be on a permanent acid trip. It turns out that Burt wasn't supposed to be retarded or on an acid flashback. He was merely "wounded", and stoned most of the time
  • I didn't even like the cinematography that Tuna praised. The photographic composition was gorgeous, but I found every scene except the father's wedding to be underlit, to the point where I was sometimes straining my eyes to see what was going on, especially in the bookstore and on the boat where they girl lived. There were some excellent outdoor shots of Amsterdam, but those also seemed underlit.
  • The bad guy in the movie, an evil Dutch dude who was trying to force the hippie to sell his bookstore to a Japanese porno superstore group, was a total caricature who belonged in a farce rather than a sentimental romantic comedy. He may also be the only person I've ever seen with sillier hair than Donald Trump. It seemed like he was in a different movie.
  • More strange casting: Carmen Chaplin seemed too old and too foreign (she speaks with one of those over-enunciated pretending-to-be-American accents, ala Marina Sirtis and Claire Forlani) for the barely post-adolescent American role, so I tried to look up her age. It is a deep, dark secret! She did her first nude scene in 1993, so I suppose she must be about 30.

All in all, it is a mediocre, miscast film which rambles to an implausible conclusion.

It's not a totally bad film, though.

It has a warm heart to atone partially for its complete lack of a brain.

And Chaplin got naked quite a bit.

A plot that makes no sense at all would be a deal-breaker for a thriller, but this is a romantic fantasy, so plausibility takes a back seat, and the warmth of the romance gets to ride shotgun. Genre lovers may like it, as Tuna's thoughts indicate.

Tuna's notes in yellow:

Snapshots (2002) is enjoying its US direct-to-video premiere this week. It is a romantic comedy with some unlikely casting choices that, for me, worked. This joint Dutch English co-production stars Burt Reynolds as an aging hippy living and running a book store in Amsterdam. He is pretty much a loner, and has a gruff exterior, but has a heart of gold. A would-be developer is trying to get him to sell the store, hoping to build a sex superstore, and Reynolds is the last holdout.


Chaplin shows breasts, buns, and a hint of bush during her photo sessions.

Meanwhile, Moroccan Julie Christie and her daughter Carmen Chaplin are living in LA, and the two are arguing over attendance at the wedding of Chaplin's father to a young woman. Mom threatens to keep Chaplin from taking an extended trip to Europe if she doesn't attend. Mom tells her not to go to Amsterdam, as it is not a good place for a young girl to be alone, but to try Venice instead. Naturally, Chaplin goes to Amsterdam, and ends up meeting, then working for, Reynolds. We slowly learn that Reynolds had one great love in his life, a woman in Morocco, who was already married. It becomes pretty obvious that Christie is that woman, and she has also been thinking about Reynolds all those years. Meanwhile, Chaplin is trying to "find herself." When Reynolds tells her to look in a mirror to find herself, she starts taking nude photos of herself to try and understand how people see her, and starts a romance with a young man who owns a photography store.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic

  • no meaningful features

I had a little trouble with the concept of Reynolds as an aging hippy, mostly due to the parts I have seen him play, but he actually developed a character for this film. Christie was phenomenal as a Moroccan, and Carmen Chaplin looks great, has fantastic eyes, and has talent to spare. Of course, you could expect as much from Charles Chaplin's granddaughter. The film was shot mainly in Amsterdam, with some flashbacks in Morocco, and a few scenes in LA, so much of the scenery was fantastic. Gábor Szabó did the cinematography, so it was very nicely photographed.

Granted, Reynolds as a bohemian ex hippy was a stretch, and the outcome is predictable, but getting there was a lot of fun, and I was rooting for the happy ending.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. A small number of IMDb voters score it 6.1/10, It does better with women, and it does best with voters aged 45+, but scores respectably across the board, with no group coming in below 5.6.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "This film is a good solid C. Fans of romantic comedy will enjoy it." Scoop says, "C-. Genre lovers may like it, but others should find a better way to pass the time."

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