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`DON JUAN' IS ENCHANTING IN SPITE OF SOME FLAWS

Johnny Depp continues on a unique career road as "Don Juan DeMarco," another funny, eccentric character that benefits from his natural screen charisma.

A delusional young man - whose delusion has a decidedly romantic effect on those around him, DeMarco is first shown wandering around Brooklyn in a flowing black cape, "Zorro" mask and black hat, with earrings, a light goatee and a sword at his side to round out the illusion.In a voiceover, we hear DeMarco explain - with a slight Castilian-lisp accent - that he is contemplating suicide. But first . . . one more "conquest."

So, DeMarco enters a hotel restaurant, spies an attractive woman sitting alone at a table and approaches her. She laughs at him and explains that she is waiting for her date, but a moment later she is completely entranced. And just as quickly, they are in her hotel room.

Later, DeMarco heads for a tall building, climbs above a huge billboard of a beautiful woman on a South Seas island - who just happens to be wearing the same mask - and appears ready to jump. (Later we will learn that the woman in the billboard is the "lost love" who has prompted DeMarco to try and take his life.)

When psychiatrist Jack Mickler (Marlon Brando) is called to the scene, he wisely identifies himself as Don Octavio and invites DeMar-co to his villa . . . which proves to be a mental hospital. There, Mickler, a burned-out clinician who is about to retire, is given 10 days to make some progress with DeMarco, or the young man will be institutionalized.

What follows is DeMarco insisting he is the real Don Juan, relating a fantastic story of being raised in Mexico and having the ability to enchant women at a young age. Shown in splashy, colorful flashbacks, this Mexico is a combination of present-day sensibilities and romanticized old-world notions, and DeMarco himself is portrayed as a lure for women.

Mickler tries to poke holes in DeMarco's story, even as he notices that all the female nurses on staff have obviously fallen under his spell. And before long he realizes that even the men are benefiting from his company - and Mick-ler himself is starting to feel more frisky toward his wife of many years (Faye Dunaway).

While it's difficult for a movie to skate by solely on charm, "Don Juan DeMarco" does a remarkable job. The script by Jeremy Leven ("Creator") has some witty elements and is very funny in places, though it becomes more and more predictable as it goes along. But as a first-time director, Leven is quite unimaginative and even his lush flashbacks are not as visually interesting as they should be.

But Leven is fortunate to have landed Depp and Brando, a teaming that at first seems rather odd but which works remarkably well. They have some real chemistry, and Brando's performance is relaxed and amusing - and he even cracks a couple of jokes about his huge girth. (Dunaway is also obviously having fun, though she really has little to do.)

That Depp holds his own with Brando also says something about Depp's natural talent, and he manages to walk a delicate balancing act here. We know his character is not the real Don Juan, of course, but because he seems so earnestly and easily convinced of it himself, he doesn't have much trouble convincing us.

If ever there was a movie that is more enjoyable than it has any right to be on the surface, it's this one.

"Don Juan DeMarco" is rated PG-13 but certainly feels like R-rated territory for the amount of sex and nudity here. There is also violence, a few profanities and some vulgar remarks.