The Marrying Man

1991, R, 115 min. Directed by Jerry Rees. Starring Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Robert Loggia, Paul Reiser, Elisabeth Shue, Fisher Stevens, Peter Dobson, Armand Assante.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., April 12, 1991

The Marrying Man is really an anti-romantic comedy. It's the exhaustion from enduring the superficially plotted tribulations of getting hitched and divorced three times which finally propels boy into girl's arms, rather than any opposites-attract dynamism of true love. It's an exhaustion that's contagious: by the film's inexplicable but game ending -- supposedly rewritten without screenwriter Neil Simon's knowledge -- you've definitely had enough of the marriage-go-round. To its credit, this production-plagued film gets by on a few discernible charms, the most obvious of which is Baldwin of the aquamarine gaze. (This film carries on the Top Gun tradition in which the leading man is prettier than the leading lady.) And despite its incongruous and abrupt shifts in tone, The Marrying Man makes some interesting (if not labored) observations about the sex-love dichotomy in a genre that usually eschews that sort of thing. Those charitable digressions aside, the difficulty with this film is that it's all dressed up in stilted post-World War II nostalgia -- the cars, the costumes, the knickknacks -- with no place to go. There's no snap, crackle, pop to this battle of the sexes; even real-life lovers Baldwin and Basinger fail to incinerate the screen with the passion that supposedly gets their nuptially cursed characters in the mess they're in. You want this movie to live up to its crazy premise about two people so taken with each other that they burn the proverbial candle at both ends again and again, but it never really does. Director Rees plays it too reverentially close to the hip, although this is admittedly the first Simon-penned film in memory that doesn't sport dialogue that sounds as if it were programmed for a canned laughter machine. Try as it may, The Marrying Man falters in its inability to let loose with a heartfelt -- or in this case, groin-felt -- irrationality that marks the best of the romantic comedies. It too often says “I don't” when it should say “I do.”

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The Marrying Man, Jerry Rees, Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Robert Loggia, Paul Reiser, Elisabeth Shue, Fisher Stevens, Peter Dobson, Armand Assante

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