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Billy Campbell and Jennifer Lopez share a moment of bliss before it all goes to hell.

© 2002, Columbia
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Boy, I was too quick to describe "Spider-Man" as the perfect comic book movie, when the clear winner of this title should be the new Jennifer Lopez spousal abuse thriller "Enough" (IMDb listing).

Slim (Lopez) is a lonely waitress just trying to make a living. Into her diner walks Mitch (Billy Campbell, TV's "Once And Again"), and sweeps Slim off her feet. The two are soon married, and with the arrival of their daughter Gracie (an unbelievably grating Tessa Allen), comes revelations that Mitch has been cheating. Mitch doesn't deny the infidelities, choosing instead to beat Slim up whenever she starts asking questions. Afraid for her life and the life of her daughter, Slim relies on friends (Juliette Lewis) and family (Fred Ward) to help her make her way across the country to flee from Mitch. When Mitch shows up everywhere they turn, Slim must come to the decision to defend herself, and thus she begins a long, arduous self-protection regime in anticipation of the final showdown.

"Enough" is a thunderstorm of improbabilities, clichés and flagrant misinformation. It's a movie that represents the darker side of mass entertainment, and is so irresponsible for its own actions that desperate measure should be considered to prevent it from being exhibited. Not merely a bad movie that you laugh off over drinks at the local watering hole after the midnight show, "Enough" is a cruel reminder of how far off the mark Hollywood can get when trying to deal with real world issues in a way that can be incorporated into a big-budget summer action blockbuster. Perfect counter-programming for the people who can't stomach the Green Goblin or lightsabers.

But "Enough" is as big a fantasy as those other, more mainstream forays into fiction. "Enough" sets up a world where a woman gets smacked around by her husband, does nothing about it except complain lightly to her friends and family (showing off her, hilariously, one facial wound, because this is a Jennifer Lopez movie after all), and when she does get the urge to do something, she has, rather conveniently, unlimited financial resources to globetrot and study Israeli army self defense methods to exact revenge on a husband who is so methodical, he makes a Bond villain look like a teenage slacker. I bought the Green Goblin flying around New York City trying to pumpkin bomb Spider-Man into a million bits more than I did Slim fixing her house to "Mitch-proof" it, or gearing up to take down her husband once and for all.

Just the very fact that "Enough" uses the soul-flattening backdrop of domestic abuse is sufficient to send shivers up my spine, but to cradle that element with the most mundane and unflattering thriller angles is just inexcusable. "Enough" should have more respect for this serious issue than to exploit it for its infantile revenge thriller purposes. The days of Pam Grier sticking it to the man are long gone, people, replaced now with a deeper understanding of abuse issues.

Director Michael Apted has helmed some pretty good thrillers in the past, with "Blink," "Class Action" and "Firstborn" coming to mind. Not classics, mind you, but competent enough little pot-boilers that had their own charms to see them through. "Enough" is Apted working in full audience-approval mode, playing to the rafters in a way previously unseen from him. Not a care or worry for honesty goes into one second of this movie, and with the rather bland lead performance from Lopez, and the career-ending one from Campbell, Apted has nothing to base his film on. The script offers no relief either, just a series of easily telegraphed movements that countless Melissa Gilbert television movies have executed with more passion and believability.

There is the old adage: "But it's just a harmless movie!" And sometimes, for some movies, that is the case. But "Enough" is too incendiary, too neglectful of the truth, too absorbed in its own lurid intentions to be dismissed as mere fluff. It's hateful, exploitative, vile entertainment, and instead of spending the cash to fill the coffers of the mindless who put this together, you'd be better off donating that money to a women's shelter or spousal abuse program that needs your money a lot more than Jennifer Lopez does.

Filmfodder Grade: F

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