Indifferently received by critics at the time (and now, a 5.9 rating on IMDb), though a solid commercial hit, the years have been unusually kind to this Blake Edwards farce. Unfolding as a series of impossible slapstick staging challenges triumphantly solved by Edwards, it has junior exec Bruce Willis taking Kim Basinger to a company dinner unaware that alcohol turns her into the date from Hell. But unlike Edwards’ more formalist, nearly plot-free Jacques Tati-inspired THE PARTY/’68, that’s only the first act in a Dadaist chain of disasters that run amok on John Larroquette’s lovesick ex; William Daniel’s peeved judge; Willis’s turn from revenge to savior (with a spiked box of chocolates); and the traditional ‘Screwball’ interrupted wedding ceremony. Edwards’ technique is typically assured, with every kick in the pants perfectly timed & placed, capped by a stunningly executed penultimate comic set piece on the eve of the wedding that could serve as a film-course textbook. (And note the casually tossed off long takes all thru the pic.) Edwards had just fallen on his face aping Laurel & Hardy in A FINE MESS/’86, but this one delivers the escalating kinetic comic frustration (and release) that one missed.
DOUBLE-BILL: Martin Scorsese tried something similar using the NYC downtown scene in AFTER HOURS/’85. But the nervous laughs are few & far between, and leading man Griffin Dunne lends it the air of a vanity project.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Scripter Dale Launer petered out after a fast-track start (RUTHLESS PEOPLE/’86; BLIND DATE/’87; DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS/’88; MY COUSIN VINNY/’92. Falling off the map after turning writer/director on LOVE POTION No. 9/’92. (BLIND allegedly much rewritten by Edwards.)