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 cliches (''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 The result is bizarrely inept; one minute, Shue is spouting brilliant insights, the next she's autistically withdrawn, then she's back to being a chatty, sociable flirt.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.