Date: 15th September 2000
This is a weekend when filmgoers are given a choice of two popular music forms to choose from -- '70s rock (Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, which opened in limited release on Wednesday and in wider release today) and karaoke (Bruce Paltrow's Duets, starring daughter Gwyneth).
Clearly critics don't care much for karaoke. Susan Wloszczyna begins her review in USA Today by writing: "If Duets were a song performed in a karaoke bar, it would be a sluggish middle-of-the-road ballad with cliched lyrics about lonely strangers and shared dreams. Its hook? About as catchy as a late train. The key? Decidedly off." Kenneth Turan suggests that the movie doesn't really amount to much of a celebration of karaoke. "Though Duets' characters are forever saying karaoke is a way of life, we never really feel that or see it on screen," he observes.
Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News pities the poor actors who star in it. "If you've ever been embarrassed by a drunken friend who grabbed the mike in a karaoke bar, you may have an idea how the friends and relatives of the cast of Bruce Paltrow's Duets must be feeling," he writes.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that she found her mind wandering off during Paltrow's singing and instead studying her hair extensions: "Very blonde, very straight and very long. Substitute 'bland' for 'blonde' and you've got a pretty good description of her movie." The film is receiving a better reception outside of the major markets.
Reviewing the film for the Sacramento Bee, Joe Baltake gives high marks to the performers, then adds: "Director Paltrow honors this nice cast with a soft, subdued style. He knows when his film should be edgy, wiggy or lyrical, and there are moments when it is all three at the same time."
Source: Studio Briefing