Host Paul S. and guest writer Michael C. revive a post from the archives. We’re pairing Meg & Michelle again, in 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.
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.The film 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.One Fine Day 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: Whenever I proclaim my love for 90’s romantic comedies, I’m usually thinking of One Fine Day and Addicted to Love. Both of these movies were obvious homages to the screwballs of the past, which says a lot about the enduring popularity of the classic film genre. Although the golden age of screwball comedy was the 1930s and ’40s, the genre never really went away. One Fine Day is a dream with an ending that leaves you wanting more. Addicted to Love skews to a point where it’s almost dangerously dark, but that’s part of its appeal. Where the Pfeiffer film is light, frothy flirtation, the Meg movie is a sexy celebration of Maggie; a character straight from Fantasy Casting’s Bodacious Babe Department. You’d better put on the safety goggles my friend, because the Queen of Romantic Comedy® is positively pulchritudinous here!The dark, nocturnal streets of Greenwich Village provide a beautiful and slightly sinister backdrop to Addicted to Love‘s dark tale of jilted lovers. Brokenhearted Sam (Matthew Broderick) follows the woman who dumped him (Kelly Preston) to New York, where she is living with new beau Anton (Tchéky Karyo). While spying on them, he discovers that Karyo’s ex Maggie (Ryan) is also keeping an eye on the happy couple, so they team up to make their exes’ lives a living hell. Director Griffin Dunne takes a romantic formula, turns it inside out, and adds a wild card in the character of Maggie. Meg Ryan filling the classic 1930’s role of screwball seductress, as she strives to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Anton.Meg trades in her usual sparkle, to play this abrasive, anti-romantic heroine and she cuts an indelible figure, resplendent in aviator goggles, feather boa and biker boots. I’m not sure how much more luscious one woman could be, but Maggie seems ready and willing to continue ripening. Ryan makes a convincing vamp, and the moments where she’s captured in the close-up, with only her eyes to hold the viewer have the power to reduce me to a heap of helpless desire. It’s the same as the effect Michelle has, when she strips down to her bra (twice) in One Fine Day. Also her wardrobe is to die for. Really, I think she must have used the power of suggestion to acquire those amazing outfits that she’s poured into.The history of cinema is the history of boys photographing girls.” Or so Jean-Luc Godard has been quoted as saying. Watching the haughty, heavenly Melanie Parker and potent, pouting Maggie working their magic, it’s hard to disagree.