Addicted to Love on One Fine Day

Together again, guest writer Michael C. and host Paul S. match-up a Pfeiffer pfilm and a Meg movie, in dual reviews of Addicted to Love and One Fine Day.

Michael C: The classic screwball romantic comedy, when done right, is beautiful to behold. In 1996, established superstar Michelle Pfeiffer starred alongside then-rising Hollywood hunk George Clooney in the charming and delightful One Fine Day. When mentioning Pfeiffer’s best work, this film isn’t often named, but it deserves to be. Certainly, it’s a light, frothy affair, which might lead some to dismiss it as unworthy. That would be a mistake, as Pfeiffer is simply radiant in a memorably sublime performance.Paul S: Watching One Fine Day may give you some idea of the sort of enjoyably lightweight entertainment that Meg Ryan provides in Addicted to Love. Where the Pfeiffer film is a light and frothy flirtation, the Meg movie is a sexy celebration of Maggie; a character straight from Fantasy Casting’s Bodacious Babe Department. Meg makes funny and sexy seem like the same thing. You’d better put on the safety goggles, because Ryan has never been more radiant. Woah, Maggie’s giving me heart palpitations. Michael, let me calm down a while.Michael C: It’s an utter joy to be in Pfeiffer’s and Clooney’s company here, tagging along as they make their way through one exceptionally frenzied day in the lives of two busy New Yorkers just trying to wrangle their kids while also doing their jobs. You know, just the usual adulting stuff, really. Throw into the mix that Pfeiffer’s single mom Melanie Parker and Clooney’s single dad Jack Taylor keep intersecting with each other throughout the day—while also passing their kids off to one another at different points—and that the actors have terrific chemistry, well then you have the ingredients for a truly exceptional rom-com.Paul S: In Addicted to Love, the dark, nocturnal streets of Greenwich Village provide a beautiful and slightly sinister backdrop to a dark tale of jilted lovers. Photographer Maggie (Meg Ryan) and astronomer Sam (Matthew Broderick) cross paths when they discover that their former flames are now living together. Sam hopes to win back the affections of hs hometown sweetheart, but Maggie’s only intention is to see her former lover Anton “in pain, hopeless and finished off. Billed as “a comedy about lost loves” director Griffin Dunne takes a romantic formula, turns it inside out, and adds a wild card in the character of Maggie.Michael C: One Fine Day throws a series of endless contrivances at the two leads, and both actors handle them with nimble grace and aplomb. Pfeiffer especially is pure white gold here, all eye rolls and snappy retorts, exhaustion and exasperation. She’s the classic romantic female lead updated to the then-modern age, complete with such ’90s accoutrements as a permanently frazzled personality and a hilariously oversized cell phone. It’s easily one of her very best comedic performances, ranking close to her astonishing comic excellence in 1988’s Married to the Mob. As in that film, she handles physical comedy beautifully, while also exuding a real warmth and magnetic charisma. She takes what could be a tired archetype—the Type A woman and all of the cliches that entails—and creates a complex and fully dimensional woman, one that any parent or working professional can easily relate to.Paul S: The words you wrote about Michelle were the words I had in my mind to write before Meg Ryan’s Maggie took me somewhere else. I did try to write some schmaltzy paragraph to summarize it but your prose is really beyond my reach. You write better than I can even write in my dreams.  If One Fine Day is a bit formulaic and Ephron-ized then Michelle is authentic and authentic. Maggie, on the other hand was such an attention-getter, the hair, the face, the eyebrows, that body. Poured into a tie-dye dress that offers her breasts, like a gift from the movie gods, Maggie had the power to reduce a man to a heap of helpless desire. It’s the same as the effect Michelle explored, when she stripped down to her bra (twice) in One Fine Day. Talk about a movie knowing it’s main selling point!
Michael C: The film also contains a stellar example of the legendary Pfeiffer cool. At one point she has to squeeze into her kid’s goofy dinosaur t-shirt. Even in such silly attire, she remains the coolest person on the planet, easily.Paul S: Back and forth, forth and back I go, greatness of cinema to greatness of cinema. Sam & Maggie. Melanie & Jack. Meg & Michelle. This, of course, begs the question, who’s cooler, who’s hotter. Who knows? Who could choose?


Filed under Dual review, Retrospective

Searching for the Screwball Spirit of Carole Lombard

I can still remember the first time I ever set eyes on Carole Lombard. Inevitably it was in a screwball comedy, Twentieth Century. I’d just watched Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday for the first time, and was delving deeper into the world of screwball comedies and the Hawksian woman. Carole was a revelation, a great beauty with no qualms about playing the clown. Sadly, she never made it to her 34th birthday, dying in a plane crash on the 16th of January 1942.In the early 1990s, it was rumoured that Michelle Pfeiffer was going to star in a biopic of the original queen of screwball comedy. Even though the project never came to fruition, I still think Michelle was one of the few actresses who could have captured some of Carole’s incomparable radiance and charisma.Every generation has The Blonde, or the dumb blonde, and Pfeiffer was The Blonde of that era. Michelle was authentic. Meg Ryan on the other hand could play ditzy and impulsive, but she didn’t play dumb. What’s interesting is, whether you preferred Meg or Michelle,  these blondes were funny.Ryan has confessed to loving screwball comedies and often played characters with the sensibility of a Lombard leading lady. In some ways, Carole and Meg are kindred spirits, great comedic actresses whose dramatic roles didn’t always go down well with a public that wanted to see them being funny instead.I won’t concern myself with whether Meg or Michelle should have played the blonde goofball extraordinaire. There’s no need to. The moment has gone. Either could have done it. It’s probably better they didn’t. Carole Lombard was one of a kind. A ball of boundless energy, natural sparkle and a rare comedic grace.


Filed under Retrospective