Maze (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Danger, Will Robinson. Chick-flick alert! Check out these IMDB scores by demo group.

  Women Men
age 18-29 9.5 6.2
age 30-44 9.0 6.5

It's a romantic triangle melodrama in which Rob Morrow plays Lyle Maze, a sculptor afflicted with Tourette Syndrome and some level of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Actors love to play damaged, exaggerated souls, and since Morrow was the writer and director of the movie as well as the star, he created the ultimate dream project for himself. In terms of overacting opportunities, the role of Lyle Maze makes Long John Silver, Khan, Claudius, and Doc Holliday seem like the Vulcan elders.

Morrow's character is tormented by muscle seizures and obscene rants, and his lips make constant popping noises, which alternate with a shouted noise that sounds like "hey". As if that weren't enough, he also goes on long obsessive rants about the tongues of shoes and other arcana. To help you visualize what he is like, his inexplicable magnification of trivial things, his constant shouting of "hey", and his spastic limbs make him seem like Andy Rooney doing a Russian folk dance. All he needed was a big hat. In fact, I don't know why this guy became a sculptor. If he had become one of those Russian folk dancers, nobody would have known that he had any special condition.

Before I resume this review, a brief story. You guys might not know that I am pretty much the same person face-to-face that I am in print. Back in 1972, I met Senator Eugene McCarthy at a party, and told him in front of everyone what a great job he did at rooting out those communists in the army and the entertainment industry. Sadly, Big Gene, although an intelligent man, didn't have much of a sense of humor, didn't know why some people were laughing, and left that party thinking I was too stupid to know the difference between him and Joe McCarthy.

Of course, in a way, he was right.

I pretty much make fun of everyone. Most people take it in good humor because they can see I'm just screwing around, others get offended. But handicapped people never get offended. They love the bullshit I give them. I can't exactly tell you what the psychology is behind this, but I guess they get sick of people either acting excessively solicitous of them, or trying to pretend that they don't exist. Maybe you thought it was in poor taste, but I can almost guarantee you that the real Lyle Maze, if he existed, would have loved that Andy Rooney joke.


Sheila Zane and Laura Linney posed nude for the artist. Both provided full-frontal nudity, and there is also a clear rear shot of Zane.

Now we resume our regular review.

OK, now let me really be politically incorrect. Morrow's ongoing tics were grating. I suppose he researched the hell out of the role, and I suppose his performance is realistic. I don't know. But it was surely getting on my nerves. I guess Morrow couldn't help that and still stay true to his character, but even if Robbo had to do all that twitching and shouting, there was another thing he could have controlled and didn't. He kept switching to Maze's POV. His technique was to use a blurry hand-held camera, and just wave it around a lot. It should have been obvious to him that this is a technique you might use once to make a point, but you can't keep doing it again and again. It's simply nauseating. It was like watching Blair Witch Three, as filmed by Katharine Hepburn.

The most inventive scene in the film, although one of the most annoying, is the scene where a woman gives birth with Morrow as her coach. Can you imagine? The scene had the normal screams from the mother and the doctors shouting "push", played out in counter-harmony with Morrow shouting "hey" at the top of his lungs, twitching, and screaming obscenities. The overall audio was about like watching the massive troupe of Hungarian tumblers that used to come on the Ed Sullivan show. The only thing the scene needed was "The Saber Dance" playing in the background.

The basic story was this: Laura Linney is in love with Maze's best friend, an idealistic doctor. When the Doc goes off to Burundi (not knowing Linney is pregnant), intending to do that whole "doctors without borders" thing, Maze gets Linney to pose naked for him, then ends up getting her to stay naked while acting out the entire Kama Sutra, most of the Masters and Johnson notebooks, and several Stations of the Cross.

When the doctor returns to find that he's a daddy, and his best friend has made his best girlie re-enact most of "9 1/2 Weeks", the fur really flies. At that point, the film just turned into the usual romantic hogwash that you can see every day on The Young and the Restless. In fact, the entire script to this film could be from the Young and the Restless, except for the twist that the lead character has his various peculiarities. I thought the basic storyline would have been both boring and maudlin if the artist had just been a regular guy.

The resolution is one of those moments that is supposed to tug at your heartstrings until they break - people reading letters through their tears, people hugging babies and puppies, that kind of Hallmark Card stuff.

As I said, chick-flick alert.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen

  • poor image quality - glorified VHS

  • no meaningful features


Maze (2000), which IMDB calls Touched is a sappy romantic comedy about a handicapped artist (Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). We used to say that a large aerospace company had a policy, "Hire the handicapped, they are fun to watch." While often true (Caveman's Valentine and As Good as it Gets), Tourette Syndrome is just plain hard on the nerves. Just to make sure we got the point, the director reinforced every vocal eruption with a first person POV using a hand held video camera, for an especially nauseating effect. Who could love this man, you ask? Why obviously, his best friend's girlfriend, after the best friend runs off to play do-gooder doctor in a deprived African nation, leaving his girlfriend, who, unbeknownst to him, is pregnant, with nobody but our artist to rely on.

I probably could have forgiven all of the above as a fair price to pay for long, clear, well lit full frontal from both Laura Linney as the pregnant friend and Sheila Zane as a nude model, but they added one crime too many -- they turned Bye Bye Blackbird into a funeral dirge. This is a film for middle aged women judging by the voting pattern at IMDB, and that would make sense. The men are all flawed, the woman opts for the man who truly cares about her, and treats her the way she expects to be treated, even with his flaws, there are cute babies ... yep, chick flick.  I found the entire Tourette/shaky cam so distracting I can't give it more than a C-. It should have been my kind of film, but I couldn't wait for it to end.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two stars, but Ebert liked it. Ebert 3/4, 2/5

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 7.4/10.
  • with their dollars ... premiered on cable TV in the Spring of 2001, then had a brief theatrical trial in November, 2001. (Did nothing)


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Good intentions, well acted, but .... Sappy. Grating. Dull as dishwater.

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