Mr. Movie

Swank, screenplay give little tail wind to 'Amelia'

Hilary Swank stars in this biopic about the 1920s feminist flyer Amelia Earhart.

If you’re into history, Amelia is semi-informative. A surprise is that Earhart didn’t just fly. She was a hustler and hawked a variety of products from Lucky Strike cigarettes and clothing to Amelia Earhart luggage.

-- Local show times, theaters.

Earhart was an instructor hired to inspire women to try careers. The university financed the plane and paid for her fateful trip around the world.

She also wrote books — anything to finance the addiction for the attention and accolades she received from flying.

Earhart hobnobbed with the rich and famous, was idolized by some, despised by others. Amelia was happily married. Kind of. Her views on monogamy were decades ahead of fashion and feminists.

Director Mira Nair (The Namesake) shoots a gorgeous film. Some of the scenes from the air are spectacular. Laced with vivid colors and billowy clouds, Nair gives you a sense of soaring and the joy of piloting a plane. It isn’t enough. Ronald Bass’ silly screenplay, exceptionally lame dialogue and serious hunks of Earhart’s awful poetry, give Amelia very little tail wind.

Nair’s casting Hilary Swank as Earhart is inspired. She looks enough like the famed aviator to be her great granddaughter.

The looks sell the part. Her acting doesn’t. Don’t let two Oscars fool you. Swank’s award for Million Dollar Baby is deserved. Doing Teena Brandon, the female-to-male pretender in Boys Don’t Cry isn’t. Swank is an adequate actress who’ll shine a bit when given something solid. There’s too much air underneath Amelia for her to grab ahold.

Tack on Richard Gere — who is 25 years Swank’s senior — as husband George and give them zilch for chemistry and Amelia predictably crash lands. Earhart’s real life hubby was just 10 years her senior.

Amelia Earhart’s real story is fascinating. We know about her aviation exploits from history books, photo captions and from theories plausible and wild about what happened to her plane on that ill-fated around the world trip.

Her story does deserve to be told -- but not this way.

The film is based on two books about her exploits. Maybe in a few years, someone will pick one of them up and give it another try.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Oct. 30 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.