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Movies You Aught Not Watch: Autumn in New York

by on February 3, 2010
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Movies You Aught Not Watch is Nick Rogers’ weekly, alphabetical look back at the 52 worst films from 2000 to 2009.

“Autumn in New York”
Rated PG-13

What you are about to read will spoil this movie. Don’t get mad. This will spare you quite a bit of mental agony and brutally executed brain cells. You’re welcome.

“Autumn in New York” easily could be confused for a fictitious film the “Seinfeld” foursome groused about — a love affair between Will, a 48-year-old playboy (Richard Gere) and Charlotte, a 22-year-old with cancer (Winona Ryder).

Unfortunately, it’s a real experiment from 2000 that tests human capacity for banality. Or, as the studio called it, a romantic drama directed by Joan Chen. What would you call it, with one-liners like “Ah, the stench of truth” or shoot-me-in-the-head exchanges like this:

Will: “Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes.”

Charlotte: “Is that a quote?”

Will: “It’s me.”

Once Will and Charlotte sleep together, he proclaims they have no future. “I know,” she says. “I’m sick.” It is a priceless millisecond of consideration Will gives to having contracted a fatal STD.

No, Charlotte’s got cancer of the heart and the 75 remaining minutes it takes her to die feel like five agonizing autumns. When Charlotte expires, J.K. Simmons’ surgeon dramatically tosses his cap to the ground as loved ones look on. If surgeons do that if they lose patients, do mimes furiously rub at their greasepaint if they speak?

To sit through this is to suffer the grossest sweaty-palms-on-the-glass sex scene. And Will has no qualities to make anyone hope Charlotte rights his ship, which has docked in just about every New York port but her grandmother’s.

Funny that the film closes with an overbearing end-credits song by Jennifer Paige — a one-hit wonder who, like “Autumn,” is a pop-culture footnote best left forgotten.