In The Mood
Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson
At the USA/Paris
OKAY, I've changed my mind. Can't Buy Me Love and In The Mood aren't the same movie.
Sure, both star Patrick Dempsey, a personable young actor whose star is evidently in ascendance. In both movies, he was a sweetheart. Truly touching stuff. In both movies, women melted at the magnitude of his niceness. In both movies, his hair was twisted into stange shapes with the aid of sizeable quantities of mousse. And finally, in each movie very silly lines were said. Oh, hell, I'll save that to the end.
I want to say that I'm not making fun of this movie because I think I'm a better person than the makers of the film. Probably the opposite is true.
In The Mood, a movie distinct from other movies but nonetheless worthless, takes place in 1944 and tells the story of Ellsworth "Sonny" Wisecarver, a youth who was too young to be kicking Nazi butt during that gloriously simple timne, so did the next best thing: ran away with an older woman. Two, in fact--one played by Beverly D'Angelo and the other by Talia Balsam.
Director Phil Alden Robinson, whose previous credits include the screenplay for All Of Me, weaves the story of Carver in a relentlessly sentimental sweetness fest that made me long for the hard-bitten realism of Bambi, or at least Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Sonny first captures the heart of a married mother of two living next door, then follows up by eloping with the 25-year-old wife of a Marine, played by D'Angelo. I know, you thought he would live happily ever after with the first one, and I ruined it for you. Too bad.
The backwardness of the locals lands Sonny in some courtrooms where he utters lines like "You can't put me in jail for falling in love," and "What'd I do that was so bad?" I ask you.
It could be that I'm just too cynical to swallow a story about older women falling madly in love with a 15-year-old because he was so kind and ingenous. After all, it is a true story.
Still, I can't help but think that there had to be a lot more to the women's decision to run off with Wisecarver than just his innocence, and Robinson doesn't really flesh this out; at least not before I started dozing off.
It could have been worse. Given the role, Dempsey puts in an acceptable performance, and D'Angelo looks decent, at least. The producers spent a lot of effort making the movie look authentic, but it really just doesn't matter.
If you're an optimistic sort of person, you can probably survive In The Mood. But why bother, when Snow White is still in theaters?