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Film Spotlight: Miss Meadows 

Miss Meadows, that Katie Holmes movie shot in Cleveland around the same time as Winter Soldier, is finally out, opening Friday exclusively at Shaker Square. As to its merits, I'll say only that Edgewater Park looks very nice.

The story itself, you may be alarmed to learn, is one of vigilante justice. Miss Meadows (Katie Holmes) is a Mary Poppins type who wears tap shoes and white gloves as she skips through Tremont, reading poetry. She carries a .25-caliber handgun in a mini purse, and frequently discharges it upon the "slime and mediocrity" of the world. Like all vigilantes, she's fed up with the ineffectiveness of traditional law enforcement, and like most of them, she's got a personal connection to violence, a connection that's rendered so much like Bruce Wayne's in tone and content that one wonders if the whole film isn't some weird, passive-aggressive Batman parody.

Cleveland, Ohio, though, is a poor man's Gotham City. The criminals too — a cat-calling man who pulls a gun on Miss Meadows in broad daylight; a deranged shotgun-wielding man who massacres a hot-dog shop, also in broad daylight; a priest who demands a blowjob from a young boy moments after mass; any number of the hundreds of convicts who have lately been released upon Cleveland's streets due to a lack of space in Federal prisons — are little more than weakly conceived "bad guy" cartoons.

Miss Meadows takes matters into her own hands nonetheless, and struggles to keep her violence hidden from a new beau, a local sheriff (James Badge Dale) who saunters and simpers in ill-fitting police pants. After a truly bizarre sex scene and little in the way of actual character development, the sheriff nobly attempts to enter into a functional human relationship with Miss Meadows, though he doesn't appear to know her first name.

All in all, Miss Meadows rarely (and even then barely) transcends the level of student film. Director Karen Leigh Hopkins, who's done next to nothing in Hollywood since writing and appearing in the charmless 2007 Diane Keaton rom-com Because I Said So, may be a tad rusty.

But the hyper-convenient plotting, the purposeless character and visual choices, and the disruptive soundtrack all contribute to the idea that a few ballsy undergraduates managed to get Katie Holmes to agree to star in a movie shot in Cleveland for a week, and then suddenly had to cook up a last-minute script. This one's in hot contention for worst of the year.


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