October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek

Featured attraction

Director David Lynch, master of the sick and the weird (Blue Velvet and TV’s Twin Peaks), has made a movie so simple and yet so sweet you will double-check the credits to make sure you haven’t misread his name. Lynch tells his story clearly and directly, without being cute, which The Straight Story could all too easily have become in less skilled hands. (Or if such vintage hams as Jack Lemmon or Walter Matthau were prancing about in the leading role.)

Based on a true story, the movie tells how in 1994 an ailing 73-year-old Alvin Straight (Farnsworth) chugged 300 miles on his rider lawn mower from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his sickly brother. A stubborn cuss, Alvin made the trip by mower rather than car because his bad eyesight precluded him from holding a driver’s license. On the road, he meets decent folk, dispenses sage advice and maintains his dignity. Farnsworth (The Grey Fox) is flat-out perfect. (G)

Bottom Line: Ride ’em, lawn-mower man

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