Elaine Lennon, my favourite writer out there (she writes at Mondo Movies) has written a gorgeous review of one of my favourite Meg movies. Words can’t express how excited I was to read this piece. Thanks, Elaine. You’ve really honoured my humble little enterprise by allowing me to share your writing.
“I’ve created a monster.”
Astronomer Sam (Matthew Broderick) follows his school teacher ex-girlfriend Linda (Kelly Preston) from their small town home to New York City after she dumps him using her father as messenger. He discovers she’s moved in with French restaurateur Anton (Tcheky Karyo) and sets up a camera obscura from the derelict building across the street watching and eavesdropping on their life together which is mainly about sex. He creates graphs to figure out when they are most likely to break up. He is joined by motorcyclist and photographer Maggie (Meg Ryan) who has nearly run him down on the street a few times. She’s Anton’s jilted ex-fiancee and both of them want their lovers back. Then as they cause trouble for their true loves more trouble ensues when they find themselves falling for each other instead … I don’t have a chart for that. This absurd romcom thrives when it puts literal obstacles in front of people – okay, Anton – the immigrant looking for a way to stay in the United States whose life is made a misery including when Sam introduces cockroaches to his restaurant and then flings him into the trash when he thinks an approaching motorcyclist is Maggie trying to kill him. The vengeful spitefulness is slapstick verging on nastiness and very pleasing to the viewer – obscured or not. Otherwise this treads a fine line in a tale of voyeurism and obsession and is a heartbeat away from surveillance thriller murderousness – the irony being when it transpires Anton’s the most level-headed of the four and tells Sam. “You can’t choose who you love.” Maureen Stapleton has fun as Maggie’s wise if foul-mouthed grandmother while both Broderick and Ryan have supernova comic timing in spades and make the most of their besotted situations, converting some immature japes into affecting attempts to make love happen for them when it just has other ideas. But it’s Karyo who is the best character here mainly because he’s a grown up. Written by Robert Gordon, a mere stripling of 24 when he dreamed this up. There’s a bouncy soundtrack with everyone from Serge Gainsbourg to Neneh Cherry, who performs a cover of the Robert Palmer track that inspired the title. Directed by first-timer actor Griffin Dunne whose celebrated dad Dominick plays a tricky diner at Anton’s place.
“I’m the Milky Way man and I know everything.”