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Review: 'Barefoot' is no walk in the park, it's a stumble

Review: 'Barefoot' is no walk in the park, it's a stumble
Scott Speedman stars in "Barefoot." (Bart Singer)

The risible slab of screwball-inspired nonsense called "Barefoot" has the distinction of featuring what has to be the only female character no actress of any pedigree could ever make believable.

We're introduced to blond, beautiful Daisy (Evan Rachel Wood, valiant in thankless defeat) as a blank-faced psych ward newbie whose mother kept her in forced isolation her whole life. But when freed by a bad boy scion (Scott Speedman) who needs a wholesome fake girlfriend for his brother's wedding to help loosen the purse strings of his disapproving dad (Treat Williams), Daisy is suddenly a wide-eyed, virginal, free-spirit fantasy object who charms all. Even though she functions like a 7-year-old. (She can't tell a lie! She hates shoes! She has to go big potty!) 

It's dispiriting enough that we're still getting movies about the cute side of mental illness, but to turn someone rendered childlike by abusive trauma into desirable girlfriend material — and sporting cast-off stripper attire to boot — is more than a little creepy. Director Andrew Fleming, usually fleet of foot with comedy ("Dick," "Hamlet 2"), is better than this retrograde dippiness, credited to screenwriter Stephen Zotnowski. And it's a remake of a 2005 German film. This has actually been made twice.

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"Barefoot"

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sexual content including references, partial nudity, brief strong language and a scene of violence

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills.

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