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High Fidelity

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(l to r) John Cusack, Jack Black, Todd Louiso and Tim Robbins argue about the best boy band.

2000, Touchstone Pictures
All Rights Reserved

In John Cusack's latest flick, "High Fidelity" (Imdb listing), the female audience will be privy to the way guys think as we follow the "mid-life" crisis of Rob (Cusack), a thirty-something record-store owner who must face the undeniable facts -- he's an adult. In a hilarious homage to the music scene, Rob and the wacky, offbeat clerks that inhabit the store expound on the intricacies of life and song all the while trying to succeed in their adult relationships. Is it pop music that makes them miserable? This romantic comedy provides a touching and whimsical glimpse into the male view of the affairs of the heart.

Rob sells albums the old fashioned way -- on vinyl. When Laura (Iben Hjele) dumps him, Rob is both miserable and relieved -- how could he possibly spend the rest of his life with the owner of a bad record collection? He consoles himself by creating a new filing system for his record collection, while also debating the arcane matters of pop music with Barry (Jack Black) and Dick (Todd Louiso), the part-time clerks who won't leave after their shifts are over. While Dick is quiet and introverted, Barry is outrageous and almost maniacal at times, but the two extremes work well off each other. "The musical moron twins," Rob calls them.

The trio trades barbs and a variety of Top Five Lists including "Top Five Most Memorable Break-Ups" and "Top Five Side One Tracks." It's these three guys that make the film worth watching. Jack Black (of the group Tenacious D) never fails to amuse me. He's the Kramer of the movie set -- he makes a hilarious entrance every time.

The actresses who waltz through the film as Rob's current and ex-girlfriends include Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lisa Bonet, and Natasha Gregson Wagner. All were great except for one, Iben Hjele, who plays Laura, the woman who dumps Rob. Cusack and Hjele had no chemistry and didn't seem comfortable with each other. Cusack made the most of it, but the couple's awkwardness is distracting.

"High Fidelity" scores laughs with great music ranging from Burt Bacharach to Velvet Underground, and even includes a musical number by the "white Marvin Gaye", Jack Black.

Filmfodder Grade: B

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