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If TV shows have taught us anything (and by "TV shows," I mean the nightly news), it's that older guys should simply NOT have sex with 17-year-old girls. Period. Name one example in which some good came out of this arrangement, be it factual or fictional. (Aside from the obvious and short-lived sensations, that is.)
Here we have Dennis Hopper as a gimpy 47-year-old schoolteacher in the middle of Nowheresville, USA, a generic but decent sort of mid-life mama's boy who recites poets to bored students and enjoys a go-nowhere romance with schoolmarm Amy Irving. But then up pops new neighbor Gary Busey (at his most creepily sedate) and his fetching young offspring, as played by the frequently butt-nekkid Amy Locane. Hopper agrees to stable Locane's horse, which (of course) leads to all sorts of carnal adventures between the schoolteacher and the daughter of Busey.
Based on the information I've given you so far, I bet you can predict absolutely everything that follows in Carried Away. Based on the novel by Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison, Carried Away desperately wants to be Last Tango in the Midwest, but comes off more like a two-hanky spankfest bolstered by long and arid conversations about embracing life, appreciating what you have, and why you, really, shouldn't be nailing the 17-year-old daughter of a military man played by Gary Busey.
The performances are exemplary, it must be said. But even as one enjoys the workmanlike performances of Hopper, Irving, Busey, Locane, and the great Hal Holbrook as a concerned doctor, it slowly becomes evident that Carried Away is drama of the paper-thin variety. It's not a particularly shocking, scandalous, or incendiary deconstruction of human sexuality, which means it feels a whole lot like your average made-for-network movie -- only with a whole lot more nudity.
And yes that includes Dennis Hopper.
Video: It's an anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, DTS, or 2.0, all in English. (Optional subtitles are available in English & Spanish.)
Extras: There's a feature-length audio commentary with director Bruno Barreto and actress Amy Irving, who are married to one another, incidentally. The duo are full of background minutiae and production whatnot, and clearly this was a passion project for both filmmakers, but the chat-track is fairly dry and unengaging. Also included are trailers for Carried Away, The Notebook, The Sleeping Dictionary, Wide Sargasso Sea, and For Roseanna.
Worthwhile to those of us who adore the work of Dennis Hopper and/or Amy Irving, or those who simply wouldn't mind seeing Amy Locane in her birthday suit for 90-some minutes, Carried Away isn't exactly a bad movie; It's just a very dry and formulaic re-telling of a cautionary tale we know all too well by now.