Three to Tango

Three to Tango

1999, PG-13, 98 min. Directed by Damon Santostefano. Starring Oliver Platt, Dylan Mcdermott, Neve Campbell, Matthew Perry.

REVIEWED By Sarah Hepola, Fri., Oct. 22, 1999

Smart-ass men, foolish choices. Despite being this reviewer's choice as one of the most likable, charming men on prime time, Matthew Perry couldn't pick a good acting vehicle if it screeched out of the lot and ran him over. Three to Tango isn't as bad as, oh, Almost Heroes, but rather than stretching Perry's comic talents, it uses them as a crutch for a bland, occasionally engaging romantic comedy that's pure mediocrity. Perry plays Oscar Novak, a stammering Chicago architect who passes himself off as a gay man in order to nail down a $90 million restoration project for the firm he shares with his partner (in business, not life) Peter (Platt). Under the mistaken impression that his potential hire is -- how do you say? limp? -- tycoon Charles Newman (McDermott) enlists his help to spy on his mistress Amy (Campbell), unaware of Oscar's heterosexuality, Amy's friskiness, or the fact that they will soon run off into the land where everything conspires to make you fall in love. A protagonist covering up his sexual orientation is a time-honored comedic tradition, and screenwriters Rodney Vaccaro and Aline McKenna milk this one for some hearty laughs. Predictably, the film's treatment of complicated sexual politics is reductive, although Perry's struggle to stay “in the closet” leads to some refreshing (straight male) discoveries. But for each prejudice the film tries to shatter, it furthers a different stereotype: Gay men all have dinner parties; in the absence of males, straight girls paw each other ambiguously and shriek about penis size. What is even a bigger bummer is the lack of personality in a star-driven film. The Practice's McDermott is all chiseled jaw, and Neve Campbell makes good on her promise to leave no other legacy besides a tongue war with Denise Richards. To her credit, her free-spirited artist is a preposterous invention, and I freely admit to loathing her character after she first complained that Marvin Gaye's “Let's Get It On” was “too slow.” But Campbell adds about as much spice to this film as a communion wafer. For Perry fans -- and I know you're out there -- the actor's self-deprecating comic schtick is a pleasant diversion, but equally as pleasant as watching him on Thursday night. And if he doesn't get a new agent (and hairstylist) soon, it looks like, sadly, that's where he's gonna stay.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Oliver Platt Films
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
The origins of the iconic Amazon princess

Marc Savlov, Oct. 13, 2017

Shut In
Naomi Watts stars in ho-hum thriller

Marc Savlov, Nov. 18, 2016

More by Sarah Hepola
What if you remade a Hollywood blockbuster in your mom's basement?

March 13, 2015

Hollywood Is Calling
Hollywood Is Calling
Celebrities on Your Cell

Aug. 15, 2003


Three to Tango, Damon Santostefano, Oliver Platt, Dylan Mcdermott, Neve Campbell, Matthew Perry

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle