If Lucy Fell
1996, R, 93 min. Directed by Eric Schaeffer. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Eric Schaeffer, Ben Stiller, Elle Macpherson, James Rebhorn, Robert John Burke, David Thornton.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 8, 1996
Reality Bites redux. Well, not really, but it is hard to not draw comparisons when all the big laughs come every time Ben Stiller's onscreen. Parker is Lucy, a psychologist who shares a New York City loft apartment with platonic painter/children's teacher Joe (Schaeffer). Lucy's 30th birthday is drawing near -- one month, to be exact -- and the anniversary recalls a childhood pact the two made: If neither of them had found a serious lover with “definite familial possibilities” by age 30, they end it all together atop the Brooklyn Bridge. Childhood pacts usually don't survive the tests of time, but this one does, and before they even fully realize it, they're off, chasing down what might be their one final dream. Joe, for his part, finally makes contact with beautiful neighbor Jane (Macpherson, quite charming here), a woman he's been surreptitiously watching (and painting) for the last five years. Lucy, on the other hand, hooks up with a flaky, new-age artist with the unlikely moniker Bwick Elias (Stiller). As Death Pact Day rapidly approaches, the two rush screaming into the arms of love with little else on their minds. The odd subplots -- their mutual goal of opening some sort of pre-school, Lucy's chilly relationship with her father -- crop up from time to time, but Schaeffer mostly keeps his focus on Joe and Lucy's fractured love lives. I don't really think I'm giving anything away here by saying that it's obvious these two roomies belong with each other; that much is telegraphed almost from scene one. What's interesting is writer/director/star Schaeffer's glum outlook. Nothing seems to go right for the two. Comedic touches aside (nearly all of which belong to Ben Stiller who's off on another, far more interesting, planet as the genuinely goofy Bwick), If Lucy Fell strives hard to be a serious romantic comedy for the Nineties. It almost succeeds. Schaeffer trips up, though, when he lets his philosophies get the better of him. Nothing stops If Lucy Fell faster than its mordant underpinnings, cute though they may be. It's “The Best Date Movie of the Nineties,” number 224 in a series. Collect 'em all.