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Film review: What Alice Found

Published: Friday, March 19 2004 7:36 a.m. MST

The lack of familiar, or "Hollywood," faces in the cast of "What Alice Found" lends a certain grittiness to the drama; it seems a little more real and vivid than it probably should. That's because the film's somewhat light-hearted tone is wholly inappropriate in what is, in essence, a story of sexual predators.

The filmmakers seem blissfully unaware of this conflict, or of how distasteful most of the film is — and, at times, almost seem to be be trying to glamorize the material.

That may make you wish for better things for this next-to-no-name cast, which includes Emily Grace as the title character, a teen who's trying to make her way from New Hampshire to Florida, hoping to go to college.

Unfortunately, she's short on cash, and almost as soon as her trek begins, Alice's vehicle breaks down. So she apparently gets a lucky break when she befriends Bill and Sandra (Bill Raymond and Judith Ivey), a middle-aged couple crossing the country in their motor home.

They agree to take Alice with them — at least as far as they can. However, as they make their way south, she discovers the couple's secret: Sandra is a highway prostitute whose "clients" include various truckers and others they encounter. And it appears that she's trying to "recruit" Alice to help her.

To be fair, writer-director A. Dean Bell does try to use some dark humor to keep the audience off-guard about some of the more shocking developments. But that decision seems rather unfortunate, and at least

a little inappropriate.

Still, he does get a terrific performance from veteran actress Ivey, who is very believable and very watchable — even when the movie itself is not. As for newcomer Grace, her character's New England accent is inconsistent at best, and it gets broader and more comical as the film goes on — which is a shame, because at times she shows promise.

"What Alice Found" is rated R for scenes of simulated sex and other sexual contact, use of crude sexual slang and other frank sex talk, full male and female nudity, scattered use of strong sexual profanity, and a brief scene of violence (a shooting). Running time: 96 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com