A LIFE LESS ORDINARY
A Life Less Ordinary is a genuine oddity. If nothing else, it makes sit and wonder what on Earth Boyle et al saw in the material to choose it as a follow-up to edgy indie hits like Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Imagine if you will the same years Alicia Silverstone heiress-staging-her-own-kidnapping comedy Excess Baggage (1996) or maybe everybody was thinking of making another Fargo (1996), which had been a huge hit the year before but with a supporting cast of angels added to the mix. Although these are angels that are cast less out of Touched By an Angel (1994-2003) or even Wings of Desire (1987) than they are out of a Quentin Tarantino-styled hip gangster film toting guns and trading sarcastic one-liners. It is a concept for a film that leaves you puzzled and on screen it seems to fall with an uncertainty that leaves you unsure whether to appreciate it as a funky anything-goes screwball comedy or as being corny.
Certainly, A Life Less Ordinary is a good deal of fun when it is conducting a parody of a kidnap drama. The scenes with Cameron Diaz trying to educate Ewan McGregor how to make a threatening phone call are hilarious he screwing it up and getting a wrong number and the woman then trying to set him up with her daughter; he writing an anonymous ransom demand until Cameron Diaz points out that her father already knows his name; or her outrage at being considered only worth half-a-million dollars.
Danny Boyle has a fine cast at his disposal with Ewan McGregor, Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci and a completely manic Holly Hunter all giving enjoyable comic performances. Cameron Diaz radiates a star class she and Ewan McGregor make a marvellous duo during a scene singing karaoke. The problem largely lies with John Hodge. Hodges scripts have a tendency to let their plots run away with them, which is certainly something shared by A Life Less Ordinary. The problem here would seem to be Hodge attempting to conduct a kidnap comedy crosshatched with an angelic intervention fantasy. The latter side of the story is not well integrated and the plot spins out of control to arrive at an extremely silly ending.
(Nominee for Best Actress (Cameron Diaz) at this sites Best of 1997 Awards).