It occurs to me that even though I remember seeing all of the tv spots for it at the time, and I have a synopsis in front of me, I don’t know much about this story other than “Bernie Mac unretires from baseball to protect his record”.
I’m guessing the tension comes from him clashing with his teammates, mostly due to them resenting him using them like that, but also maybe an old school baseball/new school baseball rivalry.
I’m still going to go with “it’s about Bernie Mac playing baseball” though.
It occurs to me that while this is significant in the zeitgeist, or at least in the Hanksgeist, I’m not sure in what way. It gets referenced as something anyone who knows about Tom Hanks should know, but I’m not sure if that’s meant as a high point or a low point. Opinions will differ, but is it an adorable action comedy masterpiece, or that time Tom Hanks had to spend an hour and a half yelling at a dog? People seem to expect me to know already. Maybe I will now.
I was very close to reviewing this a few months ago, but then when I started to get ready to, I quickly learned that not only was it a foreign-language import, it was also technically a sequel. Its original Chinese title is “Drunken Master II”. However, it is described as a “reboot” of the original movie from sixteen years earlier, with “little in common with… its predecessor”.
And what’s different? Well, I was hesitant even when I found out it wasn’t originally in English. But I’ve crossed that now. After a tough month, I want to review something silly, and since this is only spiritually connected with the movie that gave this one its II, I’m not that concerned by it. I’ve reviewed adaptations and remakes, and I’m given to understand this is essentially a fresh take.
I am aware of the Two Coreys heartthrob duo of the 80s only through discussion of them, as they were just before my time (I was dimly aware that Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a big deal a decade later).
This is looking suspiciously like “Ferris Bueller, but with the Coreys instead of Matthew Broderick”, though I’m still interested. The car wasn’t a very big part of Ferris Bueller, whereas this could potentially be a road trip kind of joyride.
I’ve been holding onto this for a long time because it looked fun, but I wasn’t sure if it was actually a theatrical movie, and also it’s a remake of My Favorite Wife, so I really wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure it would be a good fit. But I have established that it was a feature, so I’m going to cover it now.
This is built on a thorny relationship question, which I think might shift slightly from the 40s to the 60s to today. Nobody’s wrong, but how do they make it right?
After watching the movie:
Five years after his wife Ellen went missing in a plane crash, Nick Arden has her declared legally dead so he can marry his new love, Bianca. The very same day, the Navy rescues Ellen from the tropical island she’d been marooned on, and she returns home to learn her husband is leaving for his honeymoon. Ellen’s mother in law Grace conspires with her to get her to interrupt Nick and Bianca’s honeymoon so Ellen can have her family back. However, while Nick is overjoyed to be reunited with Ellen, he dreads breaking the news to sensitive and moody Bianca. Now Ellen is furious that Nick won’t get rid of Bianca, and Bianca is furious with Nick for sneaking around instead of giving her a wedding night, and then, just so Nick won’t be left out, he learns Ellen wasn’t alone on that island.
It’s not entirely correct to say that nobody’s wrong. Nobody is at fault for the creation of the situation, but everyone takes a share of extenuating it. This is one of those stories that runs on people not talking to each other, but it’s also people who won’t be talked to. As reluctant to brooch the subject as he is, Nick does try to do so, just as gently as one would expect him to deliver a disappointment to his bride on the special day. Bianca just won’t let him reach his point. Ellen’s jealousy and impatience is also understandable, but she keeps interrupting the process. Watching people who not only won’t talk to each other but can’t talk to each other is often like drowning, but it’s very fun downing done well, and this is a delightful mix of a whole lot of different kinds of comedy on the way to nobody admitting anything to anybody.
I’m sure I’ve seen the hotel manager in a lot of 60s movies and possibly TV. He seems to play disapproving waiters and authorities a lot in the 60s. Don Knotts also has a guest role in a couple of scenes, mostly in the same vein as his usual type, but without any pressure to be a hero. The judge at the beginning and end is unfamiliar, but he steals the show.
It’s a thorny problem, but the real world solution wouldn’t have so clean a break with one woman. This falls into the trap of a lot of the movies where building up the case against the wrong partner leaves a character that doesn’t seem to have any business being with the one forced to choose. It could also have left it at neither, but then the happy ending would need even more help.
The ride of this movie makes up for a lot of logical problems. The writing and performing is funny, so what else does it need to be? As long as the journey is enjoyable, the map doesn’t need to make too much sense.
Despite both of them having a good track record in romantic comedies, I would never have thought to pair Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. However, it makes perfect sense to set up a chalk and cheese couple, which are in fact a staple of romantic comedies.
It’s interesting that this movie appears to start from a position of realizing their relationship needs to either improve or end, which is usually the crisis point of the plot. I’m picturing something close to a plot where the bad boyfriend who’s usually there to get dumped in favor of the love interest, tries to reform into the love interest.
After watching the movie:
Lucy Kelson is an activist lawyer, as likely to organize a protest rally as file a suit in her fight against injustices. While crusading to save a historic Coney Island community center, planned to be demolished as an eyesore for a planned luxury condo tower nearby, she charges up to George Wade of the Wade Corporation development group, one of the bidders for the building contract, to make her argument, which among other things, includes a guarantee that she can get Wade the job in exchange for an agreement to spare the community center. Her eloquence and skill impress George, whose brother and senior partner Howard has demanded he get a real legal counsel this time and not another mistress to payroll. George offers Lucy the position, noting that not only will he spare and work around the community center in return, but the job also comes with full control over Wade Corporation’s pro bono legal budget. After some handwringing over this deal with the devil, Lucy accepts. Unfortunately, George quickly comes to rely upon her for every decision except legal matters, at all times of day and night, and after several months of this, Lucy resigns, which George reluctantly accepts, only on the condition she locate and train her own replacement. Only now that the process of separation has begun, they find that perhaps neither one of them can stand to see the other go.
I thought this story was going to avoid the stable, boring current partner that needs to be dumped for the romantic interest, but interestingly, Lucy does have a current partner that exits in the third act. Only he never actually appears because he’s always on a boat somewhere in another part of the world, and we only hear of their breakup after the fact.
I came into the story expecting her resignation to be the inciting action, but it’s actually more of the turn into the second act. I probably could’ve enjoyed an entire movie of the misadventures of falling in love with a clueless and needy boss, but they only really start to notice each other as people when they begin to disentangle as coworkers. Which is also enjoyable, just in a way that leaves an obvious joint.
Despite doing some unusual turns on tropes, this is a fairly standard romantic comedy. Witty things get said, arguments are had, feelings get developed, hidden, and revealed, and ultimately, the formula plays out in the manner the audience is accustomed to, and an hour and a half is passed in fun but not very distinctive storytelling.
I don’t remember how I originally came across this movie. Maybe I was looking up Robert Morley, maybe something else referenced the title, I don’t remember. But I do know that when I heard the title, I had to look it up to see if it was a real movie. And then I read the description and had to see it. And then it was not available online, so it ended up being a Christmas present. Which I am now watching.
I look forward to a globetrotting romp through culinary masterpieces, and also murder.