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EntertainmentMoviesDomestic ViolenceDeathJennifer LopezSocial IssuesAbusive Behavior

Wife beaters with large bank accounts are above the law. Abused wives, especially those who used to work for tips, are toast. The only recourse for these women is to change their identity, muscle up and kill the bum.

This is not the only simplistic notion that drives "Enough," the preposterous new Jennifer Lopez rabble-rouser. It is merely the most reckless, particularly at a time when more abused women are giving up on The System and polishing their aim at rifle ranges. J-Lo's gal-power endorsement of the Charles Bronson, go-it-alone method of problem-solving encourages a more modified approach, at very least: Put those guns away, enroll in a "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"-Made-Easy tutorial and put your body into it. But kill the bum, all the same.

The first job for screenwriter Nicholas Kazan in such a single-minded assignment is to close all exit doors so that the heroine has no other way out. No one can ultimately help ex-waitress Slim (Lopez) when her wealthy husband Mitch (Billy Campbell) begins to punch her out and sleep with some French woman (whom he calls "my little croissant"). The best friend (Juliette Lewis) tries, the sweet ex-boyfriend (Dan Futterman) tries, the fat-cat father who abandoned her as a baby (Fred Ward) throws money at her. All to little avail. The second job for Kazan is to finesse as many holes as quickly as possible. We are not to ask why Mitch resorts to an elaborate practical joke to seduce Slim, we are not to ask why this loving dad suddenly turns into voodoo husband after five years, we are not to ask why Slim doesn't walk after the first savage punch. This is what victimized women do, even those as self-aware and self-respecting as Slim.

Of course, we infer those qualities, as the star is self-aware, self-respecting Jennifer Lopez. There is little attempt in the opening scenes to establish what kind of women Slim actually is, or precisely why a millionaire who could have the best croissant and brioche that money can buy needs this poor little empanada so desperately. And while we're busy projecting the star's je ne sais quoi onto an underwritten character, does anyone buy this pugnacious glamour gal as a defenseless homemaker to begin with?

Lacking a real actress, director Michael Apted is called upon to fudge the facts and make Slim's ordeal as taut as possible. He gets the job done, but the suspense scenes have a generic fright-by-numbers feel that tell us he's wearing his professional hat and knows it.

"Enough" is a dangerous title to give the millionth airhead movie about a wife in distress who resorts to desperate measures.

Still, for the mob that screamed "Do it!" as Lopez held a marble block over her antagonist's head, two-syllable responses may be as much as anyone should have to muster.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense scenes of domestic violence, some sensuality and language. Times guidelines: Leave the children at home or find something more suitable for them.

Jan Stuart is a film critic for Newsday, a Tribune company.


Jennifer Lopez...Slim

Billy Campbell...Mitch

Juliette Lewis...Ginny

Dan Futterman...Joe

Noah Wyle...Hero

Columbia Pictures presents an Irwin Winkler production, released by Sony Pictures. Director Michael Apted. Producer Irwin Winkler, Rob Cowan. Executive producers E. Bennett Walsh. Screenplay by Nicholas Kazan. Cinematographer Rogier Stoffers. Editor Rick Shaine. Costume designer Shay Cunliffe. Music David Arnold. Production designer Doug Kraner. Art director Andrew Menzies. Set decorator Tracey A. Doyle. Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes.

In general release.

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