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Lifestyle

February 2, 2014

This 'Labor Day' is no holiday at the movies

(Continued)

The film’s middle passage suggests a kinky divorcee’s “Beauty and the Beast” fantasy. While Frank’s slab-of-beef masculinity has a threatening, titillating edge — he ties his half-willing accessory Adele to a chair to “keep up appearances” if the police arrive — his only desire is to heal this emotional basket case. He cooks her a blue-ribbon chili and spoon-feeds her, tenderly blowing each bite cool first as if she were an infant in a highchair. Let the trust-building and heart-fluttering begin.

Soon — absurdly soon — Adele is won over by Frank’s take-charge machismo and Olympic-level housekeeping skills. As if he’d been dreaming of nothing but chores in prison, Frank tackles a honey-do list that would exhaust Hercules. He cleans the gutters, chops wood, re-mortars the home’s foundation, teaches Hank to throw a baseball, repairs the car and bakes breakfast muffins that leave her agog. And he finds time to give a young disabled neighbor the best afternoon of his life. As escaped convicts do.

He fixes Adele’s furnace and, if that nod to her erotic reawakening is too subtle, he gets his hands all slick and juicy making Adele a peach pie. “The filling is easy. I want to talk about crust,” he says. Huskily, Adele observes, “There’s another kind of hunger. A hunger for human touch.” Cut to shot of pie oozing in the oven.

Frank proves handy in the boudoir as well. He’s the perfect fantasy man. Best of all, unlike Adele’s remarried ex-husband (Clark Gregg), Frank can’t leave.

But they can all leave together, traveling as a family to the Canadian border. As neighbors drop by and plot tripwires fire, questions of Frank’s innocence are implausibly resolved en route to an ending more sugar-sweet and gooey than Frank’s pie.

I recently saw a movie about a man falling in love with his computer operating system. It was more believable than this.

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