Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Seven - Return To Me, "also known as 'Romance for 40-Somethings'"

In every era of filmmaking there are attempts to drag the romantic date movie out of the exclusive realm of twenty to thirtysomethings and tap into the love lines of the older set. Around the same time that this came out there was also You've Got Mail, another almost saccharine sweet 'will they/won't they, in spite of the elephant in the room.'

The first fifteen minutes or so of the film introduce us to David Duchovny's Bob who is a successful architect and happily married to a zoologist who, after we're shown their perfect little life, dies as a result of a car accident. We also meet Minnie Driver's Grace who has a congenital heart issue that requires a transplant. Lo and Behold, she receives Bob's dead wife's heart, unbeknownst to both of them.

I mean, they both know someone go the transplant... but they don't know who got/gave it due to the anonymity of the organ bank. That doesn't stop Grace from sending a letter of thanks (even though she's very hesitant), though, which the organ bank passes on to Bob.

Skip to a horrible set-up by Bob's generic African-American best friend (another trope of these kinds of movies), played by David Allen Grier, which coincidentally takes Bob to the same restaurant that Grace's family owns and she works at. They have a moment or two and the rest, as they say, is history, as the remainder of the film is the two of them falling in love until that fateful moment when Grace finds the letter and has to confess that she was the one who got the heart.

Let me tell you, this film is designed to make women swoon and tear up. Whether it's how generically perfect the male lead is or how cutely insecure the female lead remains for the majority of the film, not to mention the "happy family" contrast that best friends Bonnie Hunt and James Belushi hold up, there are far, far too many moments of "Awwwwww...." Though that's not necessarily a bad thing, it just make for an okay movie and not a great one.

The main conflict is about as weak as they come as, despite the lingering love for his lost wife, Bob and Grace should have been more than able to work out this extremely unlikely little wrinkle without her having to move to Rome to supposedly give Bob his space. Blech. Still, it is unbearably sweet.

I think what really did it for me where the supporting characters, particularly Carroll O'Connor and (still kicking) Robert Loggia as Grace's Grandfather and Granduncle  respectively. They and their group of friends (which includes Eddie Jones from Lois & Clark and Dune fame), are a terrific bunch of Greatest Generation Irish and Italian stereotypes, infatuated with bowling and The Rat Pack. The innocent meddling they do is so much more cute and entertaining than Grier's attempts, though I had to cringe when they finally met Grier's Charlie for the first time and can only talk about how they like Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bills Cosby, and... well, you see where this is going.

Overall, Return to Me is your typical Chick Flick that is pretty safe as the closest they ever get to sex is innuendo and a little necking (since Grace is severely self-conscious about her scar). It's not the greatest, but is definitely a professional achievement that co-star, writer, and director Bonnie Hunt can be proud of, I think. Kudos to you, Bonnie.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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