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Let me see if I can explain it.

There's this cop, with no issues except he's too nice, who falls for this woman who has some serious issues and a lot of them surround her father. And there's this woman with issues who loves her husband a lot, even though his issues are threatening to consume him, and he runs a game show and there's this kid with issues on the game show and he has a father who has issues. And there's this other guy who used to be on a game show many years ago but now he just has issues from that. And there's this other woman, who has a dying husband, who's something like seventy years older than she is, and she has issues about that fact that most of his issues are about the past. He has a caretaker who takes care of him, and the caretaker doesn't really have many issues, but he does have to deal with the dogs and, although they don't talk, they seem to have issues. And there's this misogynist guru with major issues and he talks with a reporter and she brings up a lot of other issues that the guru doesn't want to face. And then you have the frogs.

That's Magnolia in a nutshell.

The whole theme of the movie is that things really happen. The movie starts with three small vignettes depicting actual events that happened which are so bizarre that if you only saw them in a movie, you'd say to yourself, "That would never happen in real life." But they all happened. For real. And the movie is the greatest example of how things really do happen. These movies really do get made.

So, things happen. Remember that, and you no longer need to spend three hours of your life watching this movie. Not that the movie is bad, it isn't. But it is long. And when you say a movie is long, you mean it is dull. Nobody ever said that Dances With Wolves was long. Nobody said Titanic was long (at least not until it was in fashion to hate the movie). But Magnolia is long.

However, if you like acting, they do some of that in this film. There's acting all over the place. Everyone acts, it's amazing! And really, everyone is pretty good, even Mr. Please-Don't-Let-Anyone-Know-I'm-In-This-Movie Tom Cruise, who acts up a storm. There's so much acting here that it's hard to narrow down who deserves special mention, but I think the woman with issues who likes the cop was real good. And so was the caretaker without issues but with dogs. He was very good.

However, if you remove the acting, you get a lot of empty sets with nothing happening on them, so the acting's important. But beyond that, you realize that as much as you may like this movie, P.T. Anderson, the writer/director, likes it more. He loves it. He thinks it's the greatest thing ever made. It's not. His earlier movie about the porn star with issues was better. But this is such a serious movie. It oozes pretension from its celluloid pores. It screams "Look at me! I'm a great movie! Are you getting how great a movie I am? Aren't you amazed!"

Granted, it's good. The movie is good. It could be shorter. You could have cut out one or two sub-plots (actually, they're all sub-plots. Not a single actual plot among them) and the movie would have been a lot better. Basically, the movie is a bunch of decent short films pressed together into one motion picture. Tied together by the flimsiest of strings, so flimsy that you have to pay attention carefully or miss how some of the darned things tie together. My guess is P.T. Anderson wrote some neat 20-page scripts, then realized that he'd make a lot more money releasing one three-hour film than nine twenty-minute films. And thus we have Magnolia.

Should you see it? Well if you like acting, then yes. As I've said, they do a lot of acting in the film. If you like movies about spaceships or monsters, then no, there are no spaceships or monsters in this film. If you were hoping P.T. Anderson would make Boogie Nights 2: Dirk Diggler Does Dallas, then you'll be sadly disappointed.

Oh, I have to mention Tom Cruise's package. I'm guessing it's padded, but if it's not, then Nicole is a lucky woman.

Magnolia gets 3 1/3 Babylons. But if you really like acting, then you can add another Babylon to the score.

Editor's Note:

Is "inane" an issue? If so, the SMC needs to be hospitalized.

Rated: R
Directed By: P.T. Anderson
Starring: The cop, the woman with issues, the game show host with issues, the dying guy with old issues, the dying guy's wife with issues, the caretaker with dogs, the kid with issues, the old guy who used to be a kid but now has issues and Tom Cruise.

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