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2003-12-07 | 11:13 p.m.

corduroy licorice was going to order a burrito at the drive-thru window, but got a burger instead. he was about to take a two-hour drive with a friend and didn't want to gas up the car.


this was a weekend of halves.

first, i ate half of a plate of magic bars at a party. then i spent half of the weekend at work. then i saw half of the movie "in america."

talk about your bitter disappointments. well, not that bitter. i had some warning that the movie was not going to live up to its trailer via a review, but i was still hoping.

i saw the trailer months ago and it looked like a wistfully lovely movie. that trailer made me feel the way the rushmore trailer and the snatch trailer did, sending me into a "whooooa! i've gotta see that!" frenzy. plus, this movie stars samantha morton, who is a favorite of mine. i sat down in the theater full of anticipation, positioning myself a careful distance from possible loud whisperers or chair kickers. as the film rolled, it became evident early on that the writer/director, jim sheridan, was not going to be shy about playing the sentimentality card early and often.

the tale is supposedly semi-autobiographical and tells the story of a poor irish family who imigrates to new york city to start a new life after one of the children passes away. pretty heartstring-tugging, yes? but, in this case, too overwrought to sweep me along for the ride. sure, there were some pretty moments. the kids were cute and djimon hounsou was a powerful presence as their tenement building neighbor.

i did get a kick out of one scene where the father is betting the rent money in order to win his daughter a carnival toy, because people behind me were actually gasping aloud in horror at the idea that he would put his family in peril for an e.t. doll. obviously, some people in the audience were falling for the syrup hook, line and stinker.

in case you think me a hard-hearted wench for having recently panned the steaming-with-saccharin-sentiment "love actually" and, now, this less ripe slice of cheese, i have to speak up in my defense. i've watched "it's a wonderful life" each december for the past several years and get choked up every time. so there.

as johnny cochran might say: unless the sentiment is earned, it gets spurned.

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