"feeling minnesota" is keanu reeves' attempt to prove his calibre as an actor after his success at the "speed" which catapults his clean-shaved heartthrobber status. whether reeves is a good actor or not, he definitely strives to be one by the iconclastic diverse roles he has taken. perhaps this movie is neglected due to audience's disaproval of his maverick ambition. but in spite of reeves, "feeling minnesota" is an underrated neo-noir meshed with road movie gendre as well as slapstick black-humor.
reeves plays jjacks, a ex-con whose brother blackmails a trashy blonde(cameron diaz) into marrying him. then this sappy never-do-good shows up at his brother's wedding and steals the bride's heart away. so these two intend to flee for vegas by thieving the cuckold's stashed money. unfortunately the couple is short-witted enough to be backstabbed by the cuckold...what ensues is phony death as well as posthumous resurrection, and the process involves someone's ear gets chewed off ghastly.
the subject matter of this flick could hardly attract keanu reeves' usual fans who adore his neatly wholesome boyish charm, and low-life debauchery doesn't seem an adequate dish for keanu. but keanu's guileless innocence is also what diverges this flick from sleazy melodrama, transcending it into an unusual romance of absurdity, a strange kind of love affair.
cameron diaz builds her early career with a series of spunky dirty blonde roles, and gender-reversal is a common theme in diaz's beurgeoning days. diaz was often the manipulative woman who takes the wheel, sort of edgy controlling freak type in movies like "a life less ordinary", "very bad things" and "any given sunday"...her best talent was being seductively feminine but insidiously domineering with a deviant paranoic drive until her success in "something about mary" and "charles' angels" sink her into commercialized movie star who gains quick bucks by cheesy chic flicks.
it has attention-gripping cameos from punk-goddess courtney love as the waitress who gives sassy murder advices, and the last performance from old-time classic starlet tuesday weld, who was once steven macqueen leading girl in "cincinati kid" and cult-noir "pretty poison"(it was later adapted into "poison ivy" with drew barrymore in the 80s) as keanu reeves' un-affectionate mother. vincent d'onofrio, keanu's cuckolded bro, later would incarnates into the pervert child-molester in thriller "the cell".
the movie also shows a realistic side of minnesota, the spontaneous angles from minnesota highways, cheap motel in slums, car-wagon with driver wearing hillbilly hat and the road-side forest with autumn leaves. it feels cozy with tangible affinity while its characters at the wrong-side of track merely dream to live in vegas just to enjoy a four-dollar buffet and the incessant glitters of neon-signs that sounds sympathetically petite but earthily endearing.
one admirable quality would be the movie is still dialogue-driven with dimensions for each character. it's neo-noir without the pretentious flatulency to boast the circumstance by excessive violence and gruesomely inhuman femme fatale like "romeo is bleeding" or "reservoir dogs"...perhaps it's inappropriate to deem it as neo-noir since it still preserves the simplistic human aspect of noir with nostalgic country songs like "ring of fire" as well as its sly contemporary sense of black humor, experimentally hybridized with road movie and farce of ridicule.
the ending was origionally plotted as a tradegy but altered as comedy with pleasant blossom of love due to reeves' stardom. so which would be better? you may never know.