The White Palace (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's comments in white:

James Spader plays a workaholic 27 year old widower in an advertising agency. He's one of those guys who has no bad habits and fastens his seat belt.

Susan Sarandon plays an uneducated 43 year old minimum wage waitress/cashier at White Palace (a thinly-disguised White Castle). She's one of those women who can't find her seat belt under a mountain of junk food wrappers.


  • Sarandon shows her breasts in several scenes
  • Maria Patillo shows her breasts in a flashback as Spader's late wife
  • K.C. Carr is topless as the obligatory background stripper.
A series of coincidences brings them together. They are each sheltering a lot of pain, and they seem to find solace in each other. 

There is probably a great movie to be made by pairing those characters and actors. They didn't really find it. Despite an excellent start and a great characterization from Sarandon, it's not a very honest film, and it never could figure out whether it was a drama or a romantic comedy.

I found two things disturbing.

  • In the midst of the naturalistic drama, Sarandon's psychic sister suddenly arrives - and she's not some kind of white-trash-I'll-believe-anything psychic whose nonsense is transparent to the audience. Nosireebob - she's the real thing - we are supposed to believe she has the sight. What's that all about? I thought this was a film about reality. Perhaps that was a cheap plot device to reveal details about Sarandon's past that the character herself won't talk about? 
  • The movie has a contrived happy ending. They realize that Sarandon can never fit into his world, so Sarandon leaves town. Spader then quits everything - his job, his family, his friends - and runs to her side. I don't know about that. There's no problem with my understanding that he loves her because she's really a great person and sexy as hell. And I think they can resolve the age difference. After all, Sarandon is doing that in real life with Tim Robbins. But Robbins and Sarandon are soulmates. In the movie, I don't buy that these two people will ever solve the cultural barriers. The movie makes it absolutely clear that they have nothing to talk about. They don't share the same tastes in anything. Sooner or later they have to get out of bed. What do they do then? Hard to see how this could come to a happy ending. The ending was reflective of a larger problem in the storyline - it needed much more depth of characterization in the Spader character. He needed to be more reflective, more "real".

DVD info from Amazon

  • no widescreen!!

Those crazy developments in the middle and end of the film are a real shame, because the first act is excellent, and at the point it seemed that the movie was going to be tremendous. Furthermore, it may be Sarandon's best work in a distinguished career

But then the psychic hot line and the cornball improbable ending steered everything in a very unsatisfying and unrealistic direction, and the early promise of the film came to nought.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

White Palace stars Susan Sarandon and James Spader in a romantic comedy. He is a successful anal-retentive Jewish lawyer. She is a waitress in a greasy spoon hamburger joint, twice his age, uneducated, and a total slob. Naturally, they fall madly in lust, then love. They separate, then reunite and live happily ever after. After all, that is the formula, and the script didn't deviate. There were some good moments, such as when Spader realizes that it is not Sarandon that is out of place with his friends, it is him. He is at a party, and discovers that the hostess's dust buster has no dust in it.

Sarandon is a personal favorite, and she did he usual splendid job in this film. Spader, whom I usually want to slap upside the head for his smirk, was not as irritating as he usually is, but there was not enough material for a film here. On the other hand, the sex scenes between the two sizzled, and we get several looks at Sarandon's breasts.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Maltin 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.3 
  • With their dollars ... it wasn't a smash, hit, but it took in $17 million domestically. 
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, Scoop says, "this film is a C+. Pretty good movie spoiled by a silly ending, but Sarandon gets the award for the all-time sexy older woman." Tuna says, "The correct score is C-. Those who enjoy the genre will find this one acceptable."

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