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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> September 2000 >> Nurse Betty

Nurse Betty

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
September 2000
IMDB Name:
Nurse Betty (2000)
Neil LaBute
comedy, suspense
MPAA Rating:
R for strong violence, pervasive language and a scene of sexuality.

LaBute About Face

Nurse Betty is director Neil LaBute's third movie. It's hard to believe that this is the same guy that brought the venom of In the Company of Men and Your Friends & Neighbors to the screen. Nurse Betty is still dark comedy, and still has more violence than most comedies, but it's a much happier movie. LaBute was eager to take on the project because it seemed like the last thing he'd do. Not only that, the script is not his own, so his bile creeps in only through the direction, not in the writing. Whew! What a relief! Speaking of the script, John Richards and James Flamberg have written some terrific dialogue. The scenes with George and Betty are crucial, but they rise to the challenge. The story also neatly sidesteps some clichés like the standard Road Movie fare, even though the characters spend a lot of their time driving across the country.

Beatific Betty and Outstanding Others

Nurse Betty wouldn't be half the movie that it is if it weren't for Renée Zellweger. I don't recognize her at all, even though I apparently saw her and forgot her in Reality Bites. Zellweger is unflaggingly earnest as Betty, including some great scenes in which she must play someone convincingly playing someone else. She has the innocent face to seal the deal. Since the movie has characters commenting on how convincing her acting is, it must be especially so, and she pulls it off brilliantly.

The rest of the cast does pretty well. Morgan Freeman delivers a performance as smooth as glass. His low-key performance of a low-key hit man feels right on. Greg Kinnear has fun with the part, nailing both the soap opera bits and the rest. Tia Texada is enjoyable as Betty's L.A. roommate. Chris Rock has a part that allows him to stay almost entirely in the same character he uses for his stand-up, but smiling less. Aaron Eckhart is his usual terrific, chameleon-like self. I don't think I would've recognized him if I wasn't expecting him.

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Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.