Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Teen to Adult
1 hr. 41 min.
Year of Release:
July 20, 2001
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Can Billy Crystal reinvent the classic comedy “Singing In the Rain” and give us a truly heartwarming comedy? Can the 21st Century sweethearts, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and John Cusack give us an uplifting story of romance? Read on for answers…
The other night my wife and I had a discussion in the local video store. Our lamenting question was, “Why can’t Hollywood make clean romantic comedies any more?” The last one that came to mind was 1993’s “Sleepless In Seattle.” I have been very disappointed with nearly every hailed romantic comedy of the year (Yeah, Right). It is no reason the cable channels “American Movie Classics” and “Turner Movie Classics” continue to grow in popularity.
The answer to question number one (about reinventing “Singing In the Rain”) is “no”. Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan have tried to write the story of “Cinderella” meets the National Inquirer. The truth is there is not much available for inquiring minds. I think that taking a stab at the press junket could be funny, but we already have 20/20 providing plenty of script material (with the exposure of phony critics and invented quotes). It isn’t a stretch to believe that there are people in the business that are more interested in gossip than the movie itself.
The answer to the second question (about a heartwarming comedy) is also “no”. This cast of stars have been marooned by the modern idea of funny. We witness the dread of another romantic tragedy. The film certainly will not be a star vehicle for any of the cast. The ironic thing is that we quickly forget their failures and move on (how do you spell N-o-t-t-i-n-g H-i-l-l?).
The story centers around Eddie Thomas (John Cusack) and Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones). They are the object of affection for every movie fan. The public is obsessed with their romance on and off the screen. They are America’s Sweethearts. They are the soapy Luke and Laura of the current cinematic age. Their relationship of superficial bliss is interrupted when Gwen is enticed by the stereotypical Latin lover named Hector (Hank Azaria). Poor Eddie goes into a rage (attacking them with his motorcycle) and is sent to a rehab center run by a deceptive Indian guru (Alan Arkin). How are we going to get these sweethearts back together and promote their new film “Time Over Time”?
The go-to guy is press agent professional Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal). This is a role that worked better for Crystal in the film “My Giant.” Lee is joined in this mission by Gwen’s sister Kiki (Julia Roberts). Kiki begins as the 60 pound over-weight ugly duckling. She is Gwen’s personal assistant. They must help director Hal Weidmann (Christopher Walken) get these two together and make good on his $86 million dollar investment. The all-too-typical love triangle is sidetracked by Kiki (who is now slimmed down). So the wise-cracking Lee must get the public to believe the sweethearts are together and put their new movie back on track. You know, this could be the plot-vehicle for a very funny movie. Meanwhile, Eddie is discovering his true feelings for Kiki. You don’t have to stay tuned—you know how this one is going to end.
Our sweethearts are unfortunately more bitter than sweet. This dud seems to be obsessed with more of the same old humor from below the belt. The writers seem to have tried to give the idea of masturbation a supporting role. Not just once, but this theme reoccurs three times. Hollywood continues its path of perverting love. We get the F-word thrown in once along with other obscenities. This comedy of trying to restore a relationship for the almighty dollar fails in almost every level. Yes, there are some funny moments. I think a DVD with just the funny moments taken out of comedies over the past two decades would be a big seller. You know, spare us all the social garbage. The moments presented in this film are not worth the endorsement of this movie. In fact, I wonder if AFI (American Film Institute) did a list of the top 100 Romantic Comedies of all time, would it find many in the past 30 years? My suggestion is save your money and take your wife out for a candle lit dinner and reminisce over the funny moments in your lives. It will be a much better evening.