Ken Tucker
October 29, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Molly

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
performer
Aaron Eckhart, Elisabeth Shue, Jill Hennessy, Lucy Liu
director
John Duigan
genre
Drama

We gave it a F

In ”Molly,” Elisabeth Shue plays a 28-year-old woman described as having a combination of ”retardation and autism” who becomes the object of a scientific experiment that increases her intelligence — temporarily. The filmmakers could have used the same operation Molly undergoes.

In fashioning what amounts to an update of Cliff Robertson’s 1968 Oscar-winning tearjerker, ”Charly,” writer Dick Christie poured on a thick shellac of melodramatic clichés (”I was always a person!” Shue yells), and director John Duigan shot a bunch of trite scenes, most of them involving Molly and her brother (”In the Company of Men”’s Aaron Eckhart), whose immobile, butterscotch-colored hair looks shellacked as well.

It’s as if Duigan threw up his hands and told his editor, ”Just stitch these together.” The result is bizarrely inept; one minute, Shue is spouting brilliant insights, the next she’s autistically withdrawn, then she’s back to being a chatty, sociable flirt. Somehow, a doctor (”Law & Order”’s Jill Hennessy) goes from being a sober clinician to Eckhart’s giggly love thing in a matter of seconds. Viewers will never be molly-fied by this tripe.

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