Impossibly, the coolest girl on campus falls for him, and they enjoy the most unsupervised prep school romance on record.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

On rare occasions, a movie works in spite of its flaws just because it has been made with loving hands. While Outside Providence lacks the comic inspiration of Rushmore or the irreverence of Something About Mary (to which it is wrongfully being compared), it is a schoolboy movie with an infectious, gentle spirit.

A group of blue-collar slackers hangs around drinking and smoking dope in their shabby Pawtucket, Rhode Island, neighborhood without considering for a moment that there might be another way to live. While Dildo Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) and Drugs Delaney (an inspired Jon Abrahams) slouch around spinning mindless conversations in their wacky lingo, Dildo's father plays cards at the kitchen table with his equally aimless friends.

As Old Man Dunphy, Alec Baldwin builds a superb characterization of an adult slacker, a widower raising his two sons with a gruff, one-dimensional view of life. Mr. Baldwin's loudmouthed character reveals himself slowly. This is a man whose strict personal code does not preclude hanging out with bigoted buddies at the card table, a father who keeps his love for his sons hidden until it is needed. Mr. Baldwin manages to do all this without an ounce of mawkishness. Watch him teach his son to knot his necktie. His is a delicate performance that marks him as a fine character actor.

When Dildo and his stoned cronies drive into the back of a police car, Old Man Dunphy arranges to dispatch his son to a prestigious New England prep school-an inconceivable move for a boy who seems never to have darkened the door of even a grade school. We have to accept the movie's implausibilities and realize it is simply a sketchbook from the minds of the filmmakers. Despite the fact that writer Peter Farrelly went to the Kent School, they catch details, but miss the atmosphere.

Our slacker arrives in his new world with a new name-at Cornwall, finally, he will be Dunph--and a garbage bag containing his belongings. Impossibly, the coolest girl on campus falls for him, and they enjoy the most unsupervised prep school romance on record.

The dean, played by George Mort as a rather comic fellow without the dignity of a good leader or the weakness of a bad one, does have a fine moment when he reads to Dunph a wildly funny letter written, and misaddressed, by Drugs Delaney. Actor Tim Crowe tries, but just doesn't catch the subtle cruelty of the occasional sadist who finds his way onto a prep school faculty.

But Peter and Bobby Farrelly aren't interested in those accuracies. They and director Michael Corrente, Rhode Islanders all, know their territory well. Their affection for their characters and their locale is obvious and endearing, and accounts for the underlying sweetness of the film. Shawn Hatosy hands them a fully realized leading character as Dunph, and Alec Baldwin provides the flavor that carries the movie beyond its many improbabilities.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 496
Studio : Miramax
Rating : R
Running time : 1h35m

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