Lesson gets lost in muddled “Learning Curve”

The Learning Curve

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
October 5, 2001

1 star

If you can sit through the end of “The Learning Curve,” you’ll have wasted two hours you are never going to get back.

This movie gives the indie genre a bad name. Startlingly boring, morally bankrupt and not entertaining in the least, “The Learning Curve” presents us with a pair of wannabe Bonnie and Clydes who are stupid, whiny and ridiculous. We don’t care about them or what lies in store for them.

Paul (Carmine Giovinazzo) meets Georgia (Monet Mazur) when she’s attacked. He drop-kicks her assailant, who actually looks like he could kick Paul’s rump if he tried. When Paul threatens to call the police, the would-be date rapist begs him not to–sweetening the deal by throwing a wad of money at them.

Instead of taking her home to rest up after her trauma, Paul invites Georgia out to a movie and then shows her how to eat a taco while executing somersaults on a trampoline. (Don’t ask.) At first I thought this was just an excuse to show off the actress’ panties, but they stayed out of sight in this scene. In later scenes, however, the filmmakers exploit her body–probably realizing it was the one attractive thing they had going for them.

Paul and Georgia quit their menial jobs and blow their hush money renting expensive race cars, which they drive recklessly along the freeway. With their cash gone, Georgia decides to tart up and entice men into compromising situations. Never mind that this is just a day after her attack. Paul conveniently shows up just as she cries “rape” and the “assailant” coughs up enough cash to keep the unfortunate incident just among the three of them.

Director-screenwriter Eric Schwab describes Georgia as the moral center of the film and says she is the smartest character and the only one with perspective. Perspective of what? He sets her up early in the movie to be morally blank, leaving the viewer to wonder if the first attack actually was even an attempted rape.

Yes, a man should stop the instant she says “no,” even if she initially said “yes.” But don’t ask us to feel sorry for Georgia by having her exhibit a tiny seed of a conscience: “Maybe we shouldn’t do this anymore. Someone could get hurt.”

Gee, you think?

Mazur and Giovinazzo are both attractive actors who do what they can with their roles, but neither has enough charisma to overcome the weak script. James Eckhouse–who played Brandon and Brenda’s father on “Beverly Hills, 90210”–has a nice scene as Georgia’s creepy, incestuous dad.

But what was Vincent Ventresca thinking when he accepted the role of Marshal, a record producer-mall developer who hires Georgia and Paul to help him in his scams? Or how about Steven Bauer as his chief goon? Surely, he could have gotten a better role after his fine turn in “Traffic.”

“You have to trust me,” Marshal says. “The people need entertainment. That’s what life in this century is all about.”

Yes, we do need entertainment. But he forgot to preface it with the word “good.”

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