By Steve Daly
October 29, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Of all the patronizing white-witness movies made in Hollywood about the civil rights movement, this has to be the loopiest. Meet Lucille (Melanie Griffith), a sweetly deranged housewife who beheads her abusive husband, flees cross-country to Los Angeles, and lands a guest-star role on her favorite TV series, Bewitched. (The lame excuse for not showing her interacting with the show’s original cast a la Forrest Gump is that Lucille films her work as cutaways, opposite stand-ins.) Interwoven with this ridiculous odyssey is another story line that has Lucille’s young nephew, Peejoe (Lucas Black, the kid from Sling Blade), standing up with a group of Alabama blacks against a duly bigoted sheriff (Meat Loaf Aday).

Griffith’s husband, Antonio Banderas, making his directorial debut, lays on the lessons with a heavy hand. He actually has Peejoe talk about injustices to black ”pay-puhl” as another boy crushes ants near the edge of a whites-only swimming pool. By the time Rod Steiger shows up as a judge, carrying on like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, the whole enterprise has collapsed into something as campy as a flick by Banderas’ evident artistic mentor, Pedro Almodovar. D+

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  • Movie
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  • PG-13
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  • 113 minutes
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