If you’re going to the movies for love, look further than the multiplex, look much further. In fact, just close your eyes all together.
Hey, remember when movie love mattered? When it spoke to the fundamentals of human longing and carnal passion? When the only thing bigger than your baby’s heart was that 30-foot screen? When the power of two perfectly hot creatures’ lust for one another made you deaf to loathsome dialogue because the “bump-bump, bump-bump” of your hearts was just that in sync to the actors’? Ah, the fantasy of romantic truth 24 frames per second.
Well, this Valentine’s Day, forget that. Judging from the crop of films begging for you to drop $14.50 a couple so you can make out in front of them, you’re better off spending your umpteenth night on the futon bathed in the blue glow of “Titanic” from your 19″ Zenith. From Buffy cooing over Young Indy to Batman feeling up Romy’s Michelle, the stars of these inept stabs at love are more uncrossed than Catherine Trammell’s legs.
Those who scoff at Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and, dear God, even Jennifer Aniston’s forays into big screen romance would be more than happy to slap some sense into the stupid, avaricious executives responsible for thinking Sarah Michelle Gellar deserves a romantic comedy of her very own. And in further attempts to plunder young money clips and Kate Spade change-purses, look for an all-wack-cast update of “Dangerous Liaisons,” also starring SMG. Apparently, all 12-25 years olds are expected to do these days is spend, scream, swoon and spend some more.
But that’s cool — almost three decades ago their parents lined up for weekends on end to behold what was then the dregs of movie romance. The film was “Love Story,” and alas, it’s good to know that as daffy as its star sounded, Ali McGraw wasn’t all that wrong when she exhaled “loves means never having to say you’re sorry.” Which is why none of these movies apologize for how awful they are. To hell with Cupid, and spend the rest of this mini-month celebrating what’s left of Black February. Predictably, it sho’ nuff ain’t at the movies.
Note: All these movies are from the last century. So there is a good probability that most of you might not have watched it.
Message in a Bottle
Starring: Kevin Costner, Robin Wright-Penn, Paul Newman and Illeana Douglas
Ever wonder about the back-story for those Nautica ads — the ones with that stubbled creature with the square jaw staring out to sea in a cable-knit t-neck and wool carpenter pants? No? Doesn’t matter. “Message in a Bottle” tells it anyway, with Kevin Costner as Nautica’s unofficial spokesman for its yacht division. The best part is that he barely says a word. It’s the never-been-more-fly Robin Wright-Penn who does most of the talking in this sudsy version of “The Notebook,” Nathniel Sparks’ insufferably insufferably maudlin bestseller. She’s that divorced journalist with no life and no new man Hollywood loves so much. When she finds a bottle with a letter Costner’s boatman wrote to his dead wife, she has to track him down so he can put a message in her bottle.
Uncertain whether you’ll buy Wright-Penn in this film, the makers go extra lengths to give her blonde locks that saucy Julia! corkscrew. It works. With Costner back in prime, charming-Neanderthal form (he’s silent not because he’s dim but because he’s healing), the two have chemistry that makes the cowardly four-hanky ending something to tear up over.
# Best explained as: Princess Buttercup stalks The Postman.
# The redemptive (horny, gay or black friend): Agedly-horny Paul Newman as Costner’s practical dad. Workplace-horny Illeana Douglas as Wright-Penn’s lunch break gal.
# The moment they know: When he tracks her down at her hotel just to return her strategically-forgotten jacket.
# What makes her so special: Her super-huge Chicago brownstone.
# Would Julia?: Absoltely.
# Would Meg?: With a different ending. Sure.
# Would Jennifer?: She’d leave her “Friends” for a piece of this.
# Line that says it all: “She’s gonna smell like haddock for the rest of her life.”