Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sabrina (1995)

Year 7, Day 59 - 2/28/15 - Movie #1,959

BEFORE: I sort of got my TV synched up with my movies, in that 2 nights ago I watched the premiere of the new "Survivor" season right before a film about people stranded on an island, and last night I watched 2 episodes of "Celebrity Apprentice" right before a film about millionaires.  I wonder what will happen if I watch "Mythbusters" or "Bizarre Foods".  

Harrison Ford carries over again, into a remake of a film that starred Audrey Hepburn.  I've got some Audrey Hepburn films coming up next week (but not the original "Sabrina") which are going to help me get to my main topic for March, which will be Cary Grant films.  It's going to take me about a week to link to that, though.  

THE PLOT: An ugly duckling having undergone a remarkable change, still harbors feelings for her crush: a carefree playboy, but not before his business-focused brother has something to say about it.

AFTER: I think I had an advantage here, having never seen the original, because it meant that I wasn't sure which brother Sabrina would end up with, or in fact if she would end up with either one.  In this film the chauffeur's daughter on an estate grows up enamored with one brother, then goes to Paris in order to try and forget him.  Her return is ill-timed, because her presence threatens to distract David, the younger brother at a time when he's about to marry a woman, and the marriage is connected to a corporate merger.  The older brother, Linus, tasks himself with distracting Sabrina, going so far as to pretend to be in love with her, to keep her away from David.  

There's the deception factor that I've seen in several films during the past week - and as I've learned, the pretending of a relationship often leads to the real thing ("Friends With Kids", "A Walk in the Clouds", "The Wedding Date", etc.)  So it's not much of a surprise when hanging out with Sabrina manages to melt the ice around Linus' heart, getting through his gruff exterior to make him realize that his work ethic has taken over his life, to the point where he doesn't really feel like he has much of one.  

If I've got a complaint, it's the fact that David's fiancée was never really fleshed out as a character, all I knew about her was that she was a doctor, the daughter of a businessman, and that she was engaged to David.  But what's she LIKE?  Is she loving, kind, mean, bitchy?  She's functioning as a foil character for Sabrina, but how am I supposed to make a comparison if the film gives me nothing to work with?  How do I know if David's love for her is genuine, or whether his infatuation with Sabrina is an escape from his engagement if we see none of his fiancées personality at all?

For the third time this week, my NITPICK POINT involves plane tickets.  I realize that showing someone on the phone with a travel agent, arguing over a ticket, doesn't really make for a compelling plot point - but it's something that we normal, non-movie-character people would encounter if we tried to do the things we see in movies.  Have you ever tried to change the name of a passenger on a ticket?  I'm not even sure you can do that - I figure you'd have to return the original ticket, pay a penalty or a change fee, and then get a new ticket in the correct name at the last second for the highest possible price.  At least here the characters are super-rich, so I imagine they wouldn't care about all those hidden airline fees, or they'd have a travel agent on retainer to take care of them.  

I found the timeline a bit confusing as well - how old was Sabrina supposed to be when she first went to France for her fashion internship?  15? 18? 24?  They never really said, and they did their best to make her look young, but it was kind of like when they have 30-year olds playing high school kids on sitcoms, and you can tell they're too old for those roles.  And how many years did she spend there, before returning as a stunning woman?  

Also starring Julia Ormond (last seen in "My Week With Marilyn"), Greg Kinnear (last seen in "Anchorman 2"), Nancy Marchand, John Wood (last seen in "Shadowlands"), Lauren Holly (last seen in "Dumb & Dumber"), Richard Crenna, Angie Dickinson, Dana Ivey (last seen in "Two Weeks Notice"), with cameos from Margo Martindale (last seen in "August: Osage County"), Carmen Chaplin (Charlie's granddaughter!)

RATING: 6 out of 10 flat-screen TVs

Friday, February 27, 2015

Six Days Seven Nights

Year 7, Day 58 - 2/27/15 - Movie #1,958

BEFORE: Harrison Ford carries over from "Random Hearts", and he'll be here tomorrow night as well.  With the new "Star Wars" film coming in December, I have a number of ways to possibly link to that film, but Harrison is not one of them.  For a while I thought my February lead-out would be the film "42", also starring Harrison Ford, but those plans changed as well.  The watchlist is a bit like quicksand, in that's it's constantly shifting around.

I'm also watching the first episode of the new season of "Survivor" tonight, so that's a nice tie-in.

THE PLOT:  A New York magazine editor and a gruff pilot must put aside their mutual dislike if they are to survive after crash landing on a deserted South Seas island.

AFTER:  Hmm, that's pretty odd - the sub-plot here involves the boyfriend and girlfriend of the two leads getting together, after they believed that their significant others died in a plane crash.  Which sounds an awful lot like the plot of "Random Hearts", last night's film.  I had to realize that coincidence on some level, right?  Even if it was subconscious....

I remember when this came out, some reviewers tore it apart, because they felt that the two leads had no chemistry together.  I suspect that their opinions were strongly influenced by the fact that Anne Heche was involved in a very high-profile relationship with Ellen Degeneres, and of course once you mentally attached the lesbian label to someone, it's very hard for some people to get around that.  But this is ridiculous, because we're talking about actors - they pretend for a living!  And if straight people can pretend to be in relationships on-screen with people that they're not really sleeping with in real life, why can't a gay woman be believable while pretending to be with a man on-screen?  Trust me, there are plenty of gay men and women in Hollywood who are "straight for pay" when it comes time to make a film, I just know it. 

Besides, I think Anne Heche is back to sleeping with men now, right?  Does that make this film suddenly more believable, in retrospect?  The whole thing is just ridiculous, because people are so rigid and backwards in their thinking when it comes to sexual orientation.  For many people, it's a very fluid thing (and, for others, it's not...) so why should anyone be judged or compartmentalized based on who they're currently boinking?  

Anyway, it's another combination of romance film and action film, but this time it's more of a comedy, I think?  There are certainly comic elements to it, as the female lead gets strung out on tranquilizers, an accident causes a flare gun to go off prematurely, a life-raft inflates in a small space.  To the film's credit, it didn't feel very slapstick-y while I was watching it, but in retrospect I guess it kind of was.  The two leads sort of played everything straight and kept it grounded, so the comedy didn't feel too over-the-top.  

NITPICK POINT: The female lead character kept saying she was "shipwrecked", and the pilot never corrected her.  In order to be shipwrecked, you need to have been on a SHIP.  Since she was on a plane that crashed, she was using the wrong term - she was "plane-wrecked", even though I know that's not really a word.  But regardless of that, "shipwrecked" was incorrect.

Also starring Anne Heche (last seen in "Cedar Rapids"), David Schwimmer (last seen in "Apt Pupil"), Jacqueline Obradors, Temuera Morrison (last seen in "Speed 2: Cruise Control"), Allison Janney (last seen in "The Help"), Danny Trejo (last seen in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas"), with cameos from Amy Sedaris, Taj Mahal.

RATING: 5 out of 10 palm trees

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Random Hearts

Year 7, Day 57 - 2/26/15 - Movie #1,957

BEFORE: I'm right on track for 2015, I haven't missed a day yet - even when I was sick 2 weeks ago, I stuck to the plan.  Now February is almost over, and the new target is April Fool's Day.  I left one slot open in the schedule, and TCM is running just the film I need to fill it this weekend, so it's nice when a plan comes together.  Character actor M. Emmet Walsh carries over from "My Best Friend's Wedding", after playing the groom's father in that film, he has an uncredited role as a bartender in tonight's film.

THE PLOT:  After the death of their loved ones in a tragic plane crash, two spouses realize that they were having an affair and must figure out all the details.

AFTER: This seems like a jarring change in theme, going from a comedy about breaking up a wedding to a more serious drama about spouses dying in an accident - but it's still riffing on the theme of deception, so in some sense the segue works.   (Note to the IMDB, you don't really have to say "TRAGIC plane crash", as all plane crashes are tragic - there are simply no comedic ones.)

From what I've seen over the last 7 years, the whole genre of romance films seems fairly straightforward - present the audience with one man and one woman at the start of the film, give them some interesting jobs or unique quirks, and then find a believable way to get them together.  It seems simple, except when it's not.  This is one of those times where it's not so simple, because the two people in question have so much to get around.  Sure, they've got a lot in common, but even though their situations seem similar, they choose to handle their bad news in different ways. 

There are two schools of thought if you think your spouse has been unfaithful - some people want to know all the details, and others don't even want to acknowledge it.  As an internal affairs cop, naturally Ford's character is primed to investigate things, and seek out the truth.  But the other wronged spouse is a congresswoman, used to living in the public eye and avoiding scandal whenever possible, so her impulses are to deny and ignore.  

But grief shared is grief lessened, so eventually they find comfort in each other - the tough cop learns to loosen up and let go, and the discreet politician learns to face the truth of her husband's affair and together they try to love again.  

That said, there are a few subplots going on, like his investigation of a dirty cop, and her focusing on her re-election campaign, it's possible that the movie tried to cover too much ground at once.  I don't know how Dutch found the time, for example, to keep doing his job while also investigating his wife's affair AND start a new relationship all at the same time.  It would have made more sense if he'd taken some time off after his wife's death, and used that time to look into his wife's business trips.  

In the end it does all sort of come together, but as a part romance, part mystery, part political film and part action cop film, it could be seen as a little scattered, or perhaps it was just trying to target both a male and female audience.  A film can't really be all things to all people. 

Possible NITPICK POINT: Perhaps things were different back in 1999 when the film was made, or in 1982, when the plane crash that this story is based on took place, but these days, you'd never see someone on a plane flying under a false name.  Maybe the events of 2001 tightened security, but in my experience, if the name on someone's ticket doesn't match their passport, the TSA is not going to let them fly on that plane.

Definite NITPICK POINT: Similar to "My Best Friend's Wedding", there's lots of people going to other cities on short notice - if you're tracking down leads in a case, of course you might need to fly to Miami as soon as possible, but the fares are going to be sky high!  And this was not a police matter, he was conducting a very personal investigation, it must have meant a lot to him if he was willing to pay top dollar for all of his plane fares.  I don't go anywhere by plane without buying a ticket 6 months in advance.

Also starring Harrison Ford (last seen in "Force 10 from Navarone"), Kristin Scott Thomas (last seen in "The Horse Whisperer"), Charles S. Dutton (last seen in "Cat's Eye"), Bonnie Hunt (last heard in "Monsters University"), Richard Jenkins (last seen in "Killing Them Softly"), Dennis Haysbert (last heard in "Wreck-It Ralph"), Sydney Pollack (last seen in "Husbands and Wives"), Paul Guilfoyle (last seen in "Anywhere But Here"), Peter Coyote (last seen in "Erin Brockovich"), Susanna Thompson, Dylan Baker (last seen in "Revolutionary Road"), Bill Cobbs, Kate Mara, with cameos from Edie Falco, Lynne Thigpen, Michelle Hurd, Ellen Foley, Aasif Mandvi and S. Epatha Merkerson. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 press conferences

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Best Friend's Wedding

Year 7, Day 56 - 2/25/15 - Movie #1,956

BEFORE: This will bring the Dermot Mulroney portion of the proceedings to an end (perhaps you saw this one coming...) and it's also the last of my four wedding-themed films this month - I covered "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", "The Big Wedding" and "The Wedding Date" (a couple other films like "The Heartbreak Kid" covered weddings and engagements, but those were the big four).  Just four films left in the romance chain after this one, so the end is definitely in sight. 

THE PLOT:  When a woman's long-time friend says he's engaged, she realizes she loves him herself... and sets out to get him, with only days before the wedding.

AFTER: Talk about sticking to an unplanned theme - I've been looking at deception's place in romance films, and this would seem to be the ultimate expression of that.  Here a woman can't seem to tell the truth to her long-time best male friend, so she keeps telling lie upon lie and digging the hole she's in deeper and deeper.  The situation gets more and more out of control, which I guess is supposed to be comic, but really when you step back and take a look at it, there's not much funny about the situation.

Let's start with the fact that she flies to Chicago under the pretenses of attending the wedding, but she's really there to prevent it from happening.  Not cool.  If you root for Julia Roberts' character in this film, there may be something wrong with you.  Then when she gets a chance to tell her friend how she feels, she can't do it.  Instead she gets her gay male friend to pose as her own boyfriend, in order to make him jealous.  Whether this plan is feasible or not, whether it works or not, it doesn't matter.  A lie is a lie, and lying only makes the situation worse, whatever it is. 

More lies are told when she tries to sow discord between her friend and his bride, even resorting to corporate espionage, and later grand theft auto.  Will this woman stop at nothing to get what she wants?  How selfish can a woman possibly be?  Pretty selfish, it turns out.  In what way is all this lying, cheating and stealing better or easier than having an honest conversation?  I mean, even if she wins the guy back, eventually he's going to find out what she did to destroy his previous relationship, and then where will they be?  

Nope, the rules don't seem to apply to this woman, everything is fair game.  But she had her shot with this guy, and she blew it!  That's on her, right?  I guess it's a very specific revelation, realizing that this man is her soul-mate - somehow she knows it now, but she couldn't see it before?  Unless it just stems from jealousy, seeing him about to marry someone else, and that means it doesn't come from a pure, happy place, it comes from a mean, spiteful place. 

If you suddenly realize that someone you love, someone you should have married, is about to marry someone else, the polite thing to do is to attend the wedding, be friendly, wait for the divorce and catch him or her on the rebound.  What's so difficult about that?

NITPICK POINT: The groom's best friend wasn't available?  She didn't answer her phone for a month?  Who does that?  I just know that if my best friend is unreachable, I'm not moving ahead with wedding plans until I hear from him.  This seemed very contrived, setting up the franticness that prompted the emergency "I'll just go bust up that wedding" plan.  Because if she had a month to prepare and devise a better, more calculated plan, that would just have come across as even more mean-spirited, right?  But instead, that leads me to:

NITPICK POINT #2: Same-day travel?  From New York to Chicago?  OK, it's not a long flight, but don't the airlines get all fare-rapey when you have to book a flight for the same day?  Aren't those the most expensive plane tickets you can buy, even if you go economy class?  And this happened not once, but 3 or 4 times during the film, people either flying on extremely short notice, or cancelling their flights, like it's no big deal.  Apparently everyone here is extremely wealthy, or else these situations were not realistic at all.  Unless everyone flew on standby or used Priceline, which I doubt.

Also starring Julia Roberts (last seen in "Notting Hill"), Cameron Diaz (last seen in "A Life Less Ordinary"), Rupert Everett (last seen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Rachel Griffiths (last seen in "Saving Mr. Banks"), Carrie Preston (last seen in "Cradle Will Rock"), Susan Sullivan, Philip Bosco (last seen in "Shadows and Fog"), Christopher Masterson, M. Emmet Walsh (last seen in "Cold Turkey"), with cameos from Paul Giamatti (also last seen in "Saving Mr. Banks"), Harry Shearer (last seen in "Dick"), Chelcie Ross (last seen in "The Last Boy Scout").

RATING: 4 out of 10 ice sculptures

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Must Love Dogs

Year 7, Day 55 - 2/24/15 - Movie #1,955

BEFORE: Follow-up visit to the doctor today, and even though my cholesterol is not high, it's the wrong kind.  Too much of the bad LDL and not enough of the good HDL, so I've been given a list of foods to eat, and another list of foods to avoid.  Guess which list has all of the things I like on it?  Bacon, whole milk, avocados, coconuts, hot dogs, baked beans, doughnuts, potato chips and chocolate - aren't those all the things that make America great?  It seems downright un-patriotic to avoid those foods, am I right?  Jeez, just give me some Lipitor and let me keep eating the way I want.  How am I supposed to avoid chocolate when it's right after Valentine's Day, and how am I supposed to avoid doughnuts when Dunkin Donuts is selling heart-shaped ones with cookie dough filling?  This is so not fair.  

Dermot Mulroney carries over from "The Wedding Date".  I bet he gets to eat all the bacon and potato chips he wants...

THE PLOT:  A forty-something preschool teacher looks to the personals for a change of pace and a relationship, with hilarious results.

AFTER: I'm doubly glad I re-organized the list before February began, because this theme of deception in romance has been running through the week, and looks to continue for another couple of days.  Tonight it's the deception inherent in personal ads, where nobody lists their real age or their real measurements or mentions that they're mentally fragile.  This is based on the concept that if everyone told the truth, no one would even get together and keep the species going.  

Of course, this film came out before "catfishing" was a thing - there are plenty of examples of the problems inherent to internet dating and matchmaking web-sites, but they're mostly waved off for comic effect, leaving us with an acceptable set of circumstances under which our eventual couple meets, dates, meets again, calls things off, dates other people, meets again, and eventually gets together for real.  

The flip-flopping here occurs, though, as a debate over whether it's better to lie or tell the whole truth.  Initially lying is good, because a little exaggeration gets you noticed on a dating site, and increases your odds of finding "the one".  But then lying is bad, because you want to know exactly who is sitting across from you as you eat dinner together, and what they're all about.  When our eventual couple finally dates and are completely honest with each other about things, then it seems that things got a little too real too fast - so now being honest is bad?  And then one is not honest about also dating another person, and when this is revealed, we're back to "lying is bad".  

This doesn't make the film incoherent, just inconsistent.  And if someone's going to do a whole take on dating in the internet age, it would have been nice if they would have worked out a point of view about it beforehand, and removed any ambivalence about it.  Is it the best way for people to connect with a lot of people in a short period of time, making the process convenient, or is it the last refuge for desparate, lonely people who misrepresent themselves?  Can it be both?   
And is this process any better or worse than what the lead character's father does, which is to openly date three ladies at a time, essentially keeping his options open?   The two processes seem to be compared here, but there's no weigh-in on which one works better.  Maybe there's no rhyme nor reason to the process, what works for one person may not work for another.  So why do everyone's friends and family get involved in the process, instead of letting people work it out on their own?

NITPICK POINT: Just because a man shops for groceries with a list, it does not mean that he's married.  That seems like an antiquated notion.  I am married and I shop with a list, but that's only because if I don't, I WILL forget one of the items I need to get.  And that will happen any time the number of items goes over three.

Also starring Diane Lane (last seen in "Hard Ball"), John Cusack (last seen in "Cradle Will Rock"), Elizabeth Perkins (last seen in "Hop"), Christopher Plummer (last seen in "Alexander"), Stockard Channing (last seen in "Anything Else"), Ben Shenkman (last seen in "Blue Valentine"), Glenn Howerton (last seen in "Everything Must Go"), Ali Hillis, Brad William Henke, with cameos from Brad Hall, Steve Schirripa, Laura Kightlinger.

RATING: 5 out of 10 chicken breasts

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Wedding Date

Year 7, Day 54 - 2/23/15 - Movie #1,954

BEFORE: Well, I mentioned the possible upset in the Best Actor race, so I'm taking credit for that.  I'm saying I called 4 out of 5 races correctly, for an 80% success rate.  (Sure, you can say I hedged my bets, but so what?  Everyone these days does that "will win/should win" thing to cover their asses.)  I'm very excited that "Birdman" won the Best Picture Oscar, I just wish that I'd believed in it a bit more so that I could have supported it whole-heartedly.  It's not a perfect film (what is?) but in the end I rated it an "8" last month, that's really good for a film that isn't straight-forward sci-fi or superhero, and for a film that's as enigmatic as it is.  When it comes to prediction, I guess I underestimated Hollywood's desire to suck its own dick by honoring a film about the process of acting. 

Debra Messing carries over from "A Walk in the Clouds" - now do you see why I organized things this way?  Now it's nothing but direct links from here until some time in mid-April, at least.

THE PLOT:  Single-girl anxiety causes Kat Ellis to hire a male escort to pose as her boyfriend at her sister's wedding in an attempt to dupe her ex-fiancé, who dumped her a couple years prior.

AFTER: This is a film with a high buy-in, considering where it starts, on the morning of the day where a woman is about to fly to London for her sister's wedding AND she's about to meet the male escort she's hired (sight unseen) to go with her to make people jealous.  That's a high, very specific level of drama for one day.  It's also a bit odd that she's not confident enough to attend this event alone, but she's also confident enough to hire someone she can direct, in order to control the situation.  It almost seems like a character conflict, being nervous, confident, anxious and still level-headed enough to concoct a plan.  

As we've seen several times this February already, strange things happen in romances where deception is involved.  One might predict, based on previous occurrences, that the deception represents a fantasy, which may be so thrilling that it threatens to become reality.  Hey, call me crazy.

But first, of course, there is tension created by the situation.  Will they be able to pull this off?  Can two people act like they are in love without feeling actual love, because that would indeed be too complicated?  Or are we all just over-thinking this?  I know I probably am.  This first situation doesn't seem like it's enough for a whole film, so fortunately there's a second plot here, which is the result of another deception, and seems more serious by comparison.  But it's welcome, because I honestly don't see how they could have filled up 90 minutes of screen time otherwise.

All of this seems to suggest that honesty is the best policy, because awkward situations tend to get made more awkward when people don't speak the truth.  And whatever awkward conversation you're avoiding having with your significant other is not going to be resolved over time, unless you start having that talk.  That's good advice obtained from reading between the lines here.

Or, you can just take this as a reverse "Pretty Woman", where the genders are switched, if you're inclined to do so.  God knows, that's probably how this was pitched in the first place.

Also starring Dermot Mulroney (last seen in "August: Osage County"), Amy Adams (last seen in "American Hustle"), Jack Davenport, Jeremy Sheffield, Holland Taylor (last seen in "Keeping the Faith"), Peter Egan, Sarah Parish.

RATING: 4 out of 10 powder blue suitcases

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Walk in the Clouds

Year 7, Day 53 - 2/22/15 - Movie #1,953

BEFORE: This completes the Keanu Reeves portion of the February chain, and sets me up for the final stretch - just one week to go in February, 7 films to go (I did say there would be 29 romance films, not 28).  

About those Oscar predictions - it's hard to fault Entertainment Weekly's statistics, they did a bunch of percentage ratings based on how many times the Best Picture winner has won a Golden Globe, or the DGA award, or how many times the Best Actress winner has also won the SAG Award, and I tend to agree with their results, however there still could be upsets.  In the end, you have to go with your gut, and I arrived at the same result they did for Best Picture, just by a different method.  I only saw 2 of the 8 nominees, but that was enough to help me discern that although I enjoyed them, "Birdman" is too confusing to win, and "Grand Budapest Hotel" is way too quirky.  Based on what I've read, "American Sniper" is too controversial, and I think that "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything" will split the genius biopic vote, and once you discount "Selma" and "Whiplash" (and I'm betting the voters did too) that leaves "Boyhood".  If it wins, I'm OK with that because it used such a simple, elegant yet difficult method of making a film that surprisingly, no one tried to do before.  It's not about taking 12 years to make a film, because the film was really shot in 12 weeks (one week per year), it's about rewarding patience in a world that often seems to have forgotten the meaning of that word. 

The first time I saw a film before it won the Best Picture Oscar, I think it was "Amadeus" in 1984.  The most recent time I saw a film before it won, I think it was "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" in 2003.  Ever since then, I've been playing catch-up, content to watch films after they won - and after watching "Gandhi" last month, I've managed to see 70 of the winners, with 2 still on the watchlist, leaving 14 unseen.  If "Birdman" were to win, it would help out my numbers, but if I'm right and "Boyhood" wins, I'll just catch up with it somewhere down the road.  I'm more excited about TCM running "The Artist" next week so I can finally cross that one off.

The common wisdom also says that Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette will win their categories, but if there's an upset, perhaps Eddie Redmayne can edge out Keaton.  Never count out the portrayal of a character with a disease or a brilliant mind, and Hawking represents both.

THE PLOT:  After returning from the war, Paul and a young woman meet on a bus as she's headed home from college to help with the grape harvest and  Paul proposes to pose as her husband to help her face her father.

AFTER: Well, it's a lot easier to take Keanu Reeves as a chocolate salesman than it is to believe him as a cardiologist, that's for sure.  Plus his character is still suffering flashbacks from the war, and he was raised as an orphan, so that all helps him play his character in that sort of disconnected way.  He's also sort of disconnected from his wife, who he married just before shipping out to World War II, and who also managed to save all his letters from the war and not read them.  I suppose the implication here is that she doesn't really care for him, or perhaps married him just to get his benefits if he died while overseas.  

Back out on his sales route, he encounters a woman of Mexican descent, who's pregnant and afraid to face her father (so then, why is she returning home?) and he agrees to pose as her husband for 24 hours, somehow assuming that it will be easier for her to be pregnant around her family if they had met the baby's father, who wasn't really the father.  Yeah, this isn't the most logical of plans.  

It's funny how many romance films involve deception - in "The Big Wedding" a divorced couple had to pretend to be married, "About a Boy" had a childless man pretending to be a father, and I think tomorrow's film will cover a similar sort of situation.  It's as if Hollywood feels that a plot where two people love each other, tell the truth to each other, and never cheat on each other is the most boring thing in the world.  But as you might expect, people who live out a deception run the risk of the fake situation becoming real, and that's what happens here.  

There are a few oddities, like an Italian actor playing the head of a Mexican-American family.  And I had no idea that grape trees were so flammable, but I think this was an exaggeration to advance the plot.  Still, this was at least an average romance film, perhaps slightly above average, and with the run I've had lately, that's good enough. 

Also starring Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Giancarlo Giannini (last seen in "Quantum of Solace"), Anthony Quinn (last seen in "Requiem for a Heavyweight"), Debra Messing (last seen in "Hollywood Ending"), Angelica Aragon, Freddy Rodriguez (last seen in "Payback"), with a cameo from Mary Pat Gleason.

RATING: 5 out of 10 mariachi bands