Suburbia goes wrong in 'Home Sweet Hell'

<b>Mini-review: 'Home Sweet Hell'</b>

Despite splendid performances by Patrick Wilson as a passively unaggressive furniture salesman and Katherine Heigl as his sociopathic, control freak wife, Anthony Burns' black (and red) comedy "Home Sweet Hell" musters too little wit and too few laughs to sustain this humorous autopsy of suburban life.

Wilson plays Don Champagne with a constant, nervously forced smile as he pitches his furniture store on TV commercials. When his new hottie salesgirl Dusty (Jordana Brewster) says their affair has made her pregnant, she demands money.

This is where Don's wife Mona (Heigl) - who schedules their sex lives with the same enthusiasm as their dental appointments - takes charge of Don's affairs with concise conviction: "Kill her."

By no surprise, Dusty, with help from her backwoods boyfriend, has set up Don for blackmail

The ensuing knifings, shootings, swordplay, dismemberments and explosions recall the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple" in subject only, for when it comes to people acting dumb while caught up in sex and violence, "Home" belongs at the extreme shallow end of the genre pool.

Wheaton's native son Jim Belushi supplies a perfunctory performance as Don's sales employee, a woefully underwritten character from screenwriters Carlo Allen, Ted Elrick and Tom Lavagnino.

By now, Wilson has this ineffectual male bimbo character down pat (it was perfectly executed in "Little Children"), but he's still watchable.

Heigl possesses the brittle obsessiveness to convey Mona's insane demand that life be as perfect as she plans. Yet, her performance lacks the gleeful joy of a live-action Cruella de Vil on a crusade to seriously cut all loose ends.

<b>"Home Sweet Hell" opens at the South Barrington 30. Rated R for drug use, language, nudity, sexual situations and violence. 98 minutes. ★ ½</b>

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