I saw Return to Me right after seeing American Beauty. It was like having a dry, stale rice cake after eating a steak dinner.
Elizabeth Rueland (Joely Richardson) works with great apes at the zoo, and is hosting a fundraiser to build them a larger, more comfortable habitat. Her Husband (David Duchovny) is the architect designing the habitat. Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver), is dying in a hospital, waiting for a heart donor. On the way home from the fundraiser Elizabeth is killed in a car accident and Grace gets the heart.
A year later Bob is putting the finishing touches on the new Gorilla habitat, and Grace decides to go to the zoo. On the way she mails a thank-you letter to the family of the heart donor. You can now write the rest of the script yourself.
The performances are decent, except for Carol O'Connor's sloppy struggling with his accent. There is a fair amount of humor, some of it genuinely funny, some of it as tired and trite as the story line. (Look, the man who designs buildings hasn't figured out how to work a microwave in the past year. Ha Ha. And now he's burned the popcorn in it. Hee Hee. And now he's hiding the burned popcorn in the stove! Ho ho!) But there are enough real laughs to make it almost bearable to the guys who will be forced to sit through it. (Thank you Jim Belushi.)
The chemistry between Driver and Duchovny is surprisingly good. They come across as nice, decent people you want to root for, and the heart gimmick just gets in the way. The author should have given it more attention, or dropped it completely.
The movie also makes the huge mistake of trying to be Moonstruck. Hint to screenplay writers: There is only one Moonstruck. It is a masterpiece, and we don't need any imitations of it.
Chick: This movie could not be more of a chick flick if Frank Perdue wrote the screenplay.
© 2000 Dave Hitt