Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game winning streak in 1974."

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Finding Amanda (1/10)

by Tony Medley

This is a film that even George Carlin might find offensive. I saw it at a regular showing, accompanied by a couple that epitomizes refinement. As the film unfolded, it contained such graphic, offensive language that I advised them that it was all right with me if they left if they wished, but that I had to stay. They accepted my suggestion with alacrity. And they weren’t the first to walk out. Had I not been on the clock, I would have departed, also. This movie, and others of its ilk, degrade our culture.

Taylor Peters (Matthew Broderick) is head writer of a sitcom that nobody likes or watches. The star (Ed Begley, in a cameo) doesn’t like him. Taylor is also an inveterate liar and an addict, to alcohol and gambling, especially horses. He lies without shame to his wife, Lorraine Mendon (Laura Tierney), and everyone else. Lorraine is on to him but loves him and is trying to make it work. Lorraine tells him that his niece, the titular Amanda (Brittany Snow), is working as a prostitute in Las Vegas and asks him to go to Vegas to try to help her see the error of her ways, to which he agrees.

This movie is replete with vile language. Amanda describes the sex acts she performs in graphic detail. What makes it worse is that she’s describing them to her uncle, not some john or some friend.

At first Amanda is completely in tune with her occupation, contrasting her with Taylor, who doesn’t have a clue who he is. She’s happy and doesn’t want to be “saved.” The dichotomy between her and her uncle seems obvious and severe. But then writer-director Peter Tolan has her describe her first experience as a sex professional in an emotional speech that indicates it had a devastatingly negative effect on her. Which is it? Is she happy as a prostitute, or is she devastated? Don’t ask Peter. He apparently doesn’t know because after this scene her certitude in her profession returns.

This is yet another film without a likeable protagonist for whom you can root. Taylor is a 14-carat loser, a liar who has no respect for his wife or their marriage, an addictive gambler and alcoholic. As for Amanda, there is virtually nothing to admire about her, regardless of whether or not she likes what she does and who she is.

Amanda has a boyfriend, Greg (Peter Facinelli), who is a carbon-copy of Taylor, a liar who cheats on Amanda and takes advantage of her. The only inventive thought that I can come up with is that Tolan is comparing Amanda’s constant forgiveness of Greg with Lorraine’s putting up with Taylor. Is he trying to make the point that women are long-suffering creatures who make substantial sacrifices if they love their man?

The only person in it with whom the audience can relate is Lorraine. Although not on the screen much, Tierney gives a performance that had me wanting to see much more of her, especially if part of the deal would be that I’d see much less of Broderick and Snow. But to give Snow credit, the script is such a mish-mash that there wasn’t much she could have done with it (save turn it down).

This is a vulgar film, totally devoid of a premise, that belongs in the gutter.

June 29, 2008