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'Forever Lulu' Shines for Starz

It's been 15 years since Melanie Griffith last played a free spirit named Lulu in a "road picture"-Jonathan Demme's "dramedy" Something Wild. Next month, she resurrects the name and motif and puts it to good use, in the heartfelt Starz original Forever Lulu.

Patrick Swayze co-stars as Ben Clifton, a moderately successful Hollywood screenwriter fully engulfed in the television rat race, with an overly demanding boss and a barely tolerable marriage. Into this enters Lulu, an engaging "wild child" who never lost her innocence but spent much of the last two decades in psychiatric care.

One day she bolts from the institution, determined to track down her college love and soulmate, Clifton. It seems years before-following their messy break-up spurred by a "lulu" of a breakdown-Griffith was forced to give up their child for adoption.

Lulu reappears to tell Clifton about their son, and possibly rekindle the spark. What follows are requisite scenes on the road as the California couple head back toward Madison, Wisc., to meet their son and reclaim a portion of their forgotten youth.

Griffith and Swayze have a palpable chemistry, and their shared screen time, the bulk of this movie, feels honest. That's despite Swayze's sometimes forced attempts at conveying emotion-something the more-talented Griffith carries off with ease. It doesn't hurt that Griffith has played the squeaky-voiced free spirit countless times before.

Penelope Ann Miller appears as Clifton's almost-forgotten wife. Desperate to win back her man, she flies cross-country to intercept the pair. In a trite interlude, an angry, heartbroken Miller winds up in the arms of a fellow traveler played by Steven Bauer. Trivia note: Bauer was Griffith's first husband and is the father of her first child.

The film, first released last July at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy, makes its U.S. debut on Starz on March 3.