Here’s of those romantic comedies Hollywood used to be able to do so effortlessly, but mostly does badly these days. I wonder if we’ve seen half a dozen of them that actually worked in the last decade? Maybe. This one works gloriously. Goldie Hawn is one of our favorites, dating all the way back to the days of “Laugh-in.” She doesn’t work enough; she hasn’t had a screen credit since 2002. Maybe it’s hard to find the right vehicle for her particular talents, so if she’s just waiting for the right part, I’m willing to wait with her. I had forgotten she won an Oscar way back in 1969.
Steve Martin, on the other hand, works way too much, and for a long time has picked more turkeys than winners … by that I mean aesthetically, I suppose some of them have made a lot of money. But there was a period where he could do no wrong, and gave us some of my favorite comedies of all time: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; L.A. Story; All of Me; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; and Roxanne (though I could never buy Darryl Hannah as an astronomer). These were funny movies, but with a lot of heart. During that time he also took parts in some more serious films, like Grand Canyon, Pennies From Heaven, and Leap of Faith. So what is he serving up to us these days? Cheaper By the Dozen 2 and The Pink Panther 2, sequels to films that were pretty standard or pretty bad in the first place.
But here, directed by Frank Oz, everything works. Steve does bewildered better than anyone alive, and this story leaves him plenty to be bewildered by, as Goldie moves into his life and catches him up in her effortless web of lies. “You’re the queen of crap,” he tells her, admiringly. “You’re the Ernest Hemingway of bullshit.” And she is, and if she wasn’t so charming she’d be very like a stalker … but she’s Goldie, and we believe it all and the only question is, how long will it take this idiot to fall in love with her, as we did five minutes into the film?