Flawless

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Flawless

For the past decade, Joel Schumacher's name has become synonymous with soulless blockbusters. After the commercial disappointment of Batman & Robin, however, he attempted to break out of his expensive-hack pigeonhole by directing the abysmal 8MM, a critically panned flop that did prove his ability to make psycho-thrillers as slick and empty as his Batman movies. With Flawless, Schumacher once again displays his versatility, proving he's capable of making small, character-driven films that ring just as false as any blockbuster. Robert DeNiro stars as a narrow-minded big-city hero cop who suffers a debilitating stroke and recruits a flamboyant drag queen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to give him singing lessons. Flawless boasts two great actors as its leads, but in spirit, tone, and quality, it's not far removed from Norman... Is That You?, the 1975 film in which Red Foxx learns to accept homosexuality. Hoffman does exceptional work here, turning a stereotype—the sass-talking, neck-swinging, in-your-face drag queen—into a real person, but neither actor can overcome the flimsiness of Schumacher's awful script. Perhaps as an homage to the comically over-stuffed Batman movies, Flawless features numerous storylines snagged from The Big Book Of Stupid Subplots, including an unconvincing romance for DeNiro and an idiotic stolen-money subplot that provides the film with its unearned payoff. Well-intentioned—it seems no dispute can't be solved with a little bleeding-heart liberalism—but flat, schmaltzy, and obvious, Flawless is yet another reminder that bad movies often happen to good actors.