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in the james bond film " diamonds are forever , " tiffany case asks 007 whether he prefers brunettes to redheads .
bond's response is that it doesn't really matter , as long as collars and cuffs match .
well , collars and cuffs don't match in " the real blonde . "
what might have sounded good on paper ends up as a largely unfunny , meandering comedy on screen .
the film , supposedly a satire of the superficiality of soap operas and the modeling business , is wafer thin .
it plays like an " ally mcbeal " episode dragged out to the nth degree , replete with a few unnecessary " fantasy " sequences .
writer/director tom dicillo manages the material as if poking fun at daytime dramas is a fresh idea .
it isn't .
the only surprise here is that the talented dicillo could make familiar terrain so dreary .
matthew modine plays joe , a struggling actor waiting tables in order to pay the rent .
he's 35 with no agent and no credits since he's too proud to take on roles in commercials or soap operas .
" that's not really acting " he tells his girlfriend of six years , mary ( catherine keener ) , with whom he bickers constantly about sex .
but they need the money , so joe finally agrees to take a part in a madonna video .
but it's not really madonna starring in the video but a lookalike ( played by elizabeth berkley , still trying to jump-start her career after " showgirls " ) .
this points out how artificial this whole business is , one supposes .
dicillo has referred to " the real blonde " as " off-kilter , but an interesting combination of all sorts of stuff . . . "
the film , which wanders all over the place without getting anywhere , is remarkably * on * -kilter and , with perhaps the single exception of the always-likable modine ( who's not afraid to stand around in a very unattractive bathing suit surrounded by hunks ) , the entire cast is vague and uninteresting .
catherine keener , who's appeared in dicillo's previous three films ( including the brilliant " living in oblivion " ) , is at her most annoying in " the real blonde . "
look at her closely ; she really can't act at all .
her reactions are all wrong , almost always out of sync with her co-stars .
she reacts too soon , or too late , to lines and situations .
she moves her eyes , or her mouth , far too much .
she frowns , she yells , she babbles--she blows chunks .
maxwell caulfield plays joe's actor/waiter buddy bob , the one obsessed with dating a " natural " blonde .
bob's personality ( not to mention caulfield's acting ability ) parallels that of the character he plays on the soap opera " passion crest " --stiff and uninteresting .
maybe that's the point .
daryl hannah is dim and uninteresting as the real blonde of the title , a soap dish who beds bob both on- and off-camera .
hannah looks about fifty in this movie ( she's only 37 ) .
why is that ?
almost all the women in the film wear tops that show their nipples .
why is that ! ?
marlo thomas plays an uninteresting fashion photographer .
kathleen turner plays an uninteresting talent agent .
buck henry plays an uninteresting shrink .
christopher lloyd plays an uninteresting caterer .
and so on .
the best parts of the " the real blonde " are the beginning and the end , brief scenes of an elderly woman losing and then finding her dog .
there's more depth and sincerity in a single close-up of her expressive face than in the entire film .
while this contrast is supposedly meant to highlight the shallowness of the other characters' lives , the only thing that makes shallow and superficial interesting is if it's funny .