The Austin Chronicle

Miami Rhapsody

Directed by David Frankel. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Antonio Banderas, Gil Bellows, Mia Farrow, Carla Gugino, Paul Mazursky, Kevin Pollak.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 3, 1995

Miami Rhapsody's aspirations are clear. It longs to be a Gershwin Manhattan. Easy-listening rum & Coke is more like what it achieves. Even if Mia Farrow weren't cast in one of the movie's lead roles, it would take no sleuth work to see that writer-director David Frankel's patron saint is Woody Allen. Though Miami Rhapsody is packaged with a good amount of wit and humor, Frankel's directing debut lacks a sustainable narrative core and an inability to develop a scene beyond the punchline. Too often, you can see the one-liners coming even before they're delivered, which can prove disastrous to a movie's rhythm. It can also be an indication of the movie's reliance on pop clich├ęs and worn comedy set-ups. Marriage (or, perhaps, fear of marriage) is the subject of Miami Rhapsody. Just as Gwyn (Parker), the movie's narrator, decides to marry her live-in boyfriend, she witnesses all the marriages surrounding her falling apart. Certainly, we're all aware of today's skyrocketing divorce statistics, but this many marital break-ups within one work of fiction far surpasses any believable quotient. Mom (Farrow) is bored with Dad (Mazursky) so she's making it with Grandma's nurse (Banderas). Dad has been carrying on with his travel agent for years. Sis (Gugino) rushes into a marriage with a football pro but falls out of love just as quickly and is soon catching up with old boyfriends. And Brother (Pollak) leaves his pregnant wife (Garrick) for the wife (Campbell) of his business partner. This twisted backdrop casts a pall on Gwyn's wedding plans. Wry observations about love and commitment dot the movie's dialogue like kernels of popcorn -- enjoyable going down but lacking any real nourishment. Added to this, conversations are repetitively shot in tracking mid-shots that reinforces the idea that the whole point of the scene is the punchline and not the interplay from which it evolves. Also weak is the movie's flashback structure which establishes the movie as a story Gwyn tells to her gynecologist. (Will medical histories of this magnitude be part of the national health care reform?) Still, the cast (minus Naomi Campbell, who painfully proves correct our deepest fears about models who should be seen and not heard) performs with a zest that makes all the problems palatable, if not plausible. And Sarah Jessica Parker turns in a performance that's so seductively delightful that the viewer always feels glad just to be in her company.

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