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R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 03/27/1997,


Tejana sensation Selena Quintanilla Perez was poised to reach a crossover audience with her cha-cha rhythms and cult celebrity when her fan-club president shot her in 1995. Selena the Movie is equally tragic. Indulging in spun-sugar sentimentality and gratuitous tear-wringing, this bio-pic is geared to appeal to only the most ardent aficionados.

A convincing Jennifer Lopez dons the spangled bustier to trace the chicana goddess's upsurge from state fairs to stadiums. Her performance numbers do swing, evoking the singer's almost alarming charisma. But with the exception of Lopez and Edward James Olmos as Selena's father/manager, a streak of miscasting distracts with unintentional humor. Becky Lee Meza as young Selena can't lip-synch to save her life, and Jackie Guerra as the singer's sister/drummer bears a surreal resemblance to Rosie O'Donnell. By the time a creepily unblinking Lupe Ontiveros slinks in as the obsessed killer, the accidental amusements have undone the tragedy. Worst of all, the film mocks Selena's short life by dragging on forever. At the Copley Place, the Fresh Pond, and the Chestnut Hill and in the suburbs.

-- Alicia Potter