The Return of Karen Allen
Karen Allen was a beautiul woman and a fine actress, most notably in the first "Indiana Jones" movie and "Starman." But to judge from her bio on imdb.com, she's always been dubious about movie stardom. Every time she had a hit, she'd retreat into indie obscurity, or motherhood, or her fabric store in Great Barrington, Mass. So it was great to see her back in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." She looks her age, 56, and women who look their age don't get the same leading parts that men who look their age do. Like Harrison Ford.
Still, it was good of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to cast Allen, and to work her into the story in such an integral way. What they lost in stereotypical va-va-voom sex appeal, they gained in dramatic crediblity, political correctness (strirking a blow for the older actress, especially one who doesn't seem to have subjected herself to Botox or plastic surgery) and simple nostalgia. And they got that megawatt Allen smile, undimmed.
The movie itself has its ups and downs. Cate Blanchett, or more accurately the Cate Blanchett cartoon character, is rididulous. Shia LaBoeuf doesn't have much of a part, either. But the movie is worth watching for Ford and Allen, at least one chase scene and the special effects (the nuclear explosion!). Not all of us have a taste for big, noisy pop summer spectacles. But as far as they go, this one goes far enough.
And then, you can go out and rent "Starman." It has a terrific srory, a wonderful performance from Jeff Bridges, and Allen at her radiant youthful peak.
For an ongoing conversation and news reports about arts journalism, go to the blog of the National Arts Journalism Program, here.
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