Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In. Columbia Pictures 1997.

Before watching the movie:

I very vaguely recall a movie with this title being around back then, but I don’t remember anything about it. I didn’t even remember it was one of the movies they tried putting Matthew Perry in.

I see it’s another movie titled after a song they can easily license. It could be a direct reference to the proverb, but as it’s a love story, it’s going to be a reference to the love song.

I definitely did not know this is about a rushed relationship between an American guy and a Mexican woman and the problems created when their lives and families catch up with their choices until now.

After watching the movie:

Alex Whitman works for a New York architecture firm in a job that frequently takes him to other cities for months at a time to supervise construction, but he considers himself a New Yorker. He’s sent to Las Vegas to work on a project that has the potential to prove his worth for the biggest upcoming contract in the company. Isabel Fuentes is a photographer who frequently crosses between Aguascalientes and Las Vegas, splitting time between her families in both places, working as a souvenir photographer in a casino as well as on her passion project of desert landscape photos. While Alex is at a Las Vegas Mexican restaurant researching and recruiting a cook he wants to hire, he and Isabel meet in line for the toilet as Isabel is getting off the phone from breaking up with her fiance, and the immediate chemistry between Alex and Isabel leads to them going to bed together, though Isabel is gone in the morning when Alex wakes up. Three months later, Isabel arrives to inform Alex that she feels it’s important she tell him that she’s pregnant, she’s keeping the baby, and goodbye forever. Alex feels it’s important that he do something for her, and Isabel suggests he come to a family dinner so that when they find out about her baby later, she can tell them they already met the father. Over the course of the evening, Alex becomes enamored with Isabel and her family and declares that he believes they’re fated to get married, and because they are in Las Vegas, they do, immediately. Directly thereafter, they start to have problems as they begin to actually get to know each other and try to integrate into each other’s families. Most significantly Isabel always assumed they would stay in Las Vegas with her family and career and never realized that Alex was planning to return to New York in less than a year.

Perry seems a little outside of what the character is supposed to be, but I suppose it’s just difficult to not see him as the wackier Friends character. He makes a good effort at the serious scenes, but he just doesn’t feel as believable as many other options would have been. Salma Hayek on the other hand is exactly what Isabel needs to be at all times. She brings the drama to this dramedy but also handles comedy very well.

This story has so much texture I’m surprised that it wasn’t based on a book. Someone went to a lot of effort to depict Latino families and how the culture would clash with New England yuppies, something which I would also expect to have been drawn from lived experience, but a brief look at the writers doesn’t seem to indicate that. My Latina (but not Mexican) wife recommended this movie and she found Isabel’s family very familiar. She also found a lot of Alex as a gringo husband familiar, some of which I readily conceded.

The third act feels a little messier than most romantic comedies. There was a moment when it felt like Alex should have made the big gesture to prove that he’s more committed to this relationship than Isabel thinks, and he doesn’t. She tells him to leave and he does. It’s only after several weeks of not being able to cope with going back to his old life that he realizes he can’t do without her. And that delay makes it a lot harder on him to get back to her. One could argue that they needed to try what they thought was the right answer to their problem, but it seems like they threw themselves into their new misery almost as stubbornly as they stayed committed to their relationship. Maybe that’s more realistic, but it isn’t what we’ve come to expect from movies of this genre.

This is a delightful movie about culture clash and reckless love. It shows the difference that is made in a relationship from the story we tell ourselves about that relationship, when we believe it should last or die, and why. Alex and Isabel rush into everything and fail in just about every way, but they ultimately manage to salvage what was real about their love and start again properly, because they choose to. And that’s a wonderful lesson.

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