starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Mia Farrow, Antonio Banderas
directed by David Frankel
Playing at Sony Fresh Pond
"Miami Rhapsody," isn't a movie you should run to see if you're dying for an evening of intellectual angst, emotional turmoil or even a reference worth remembering to impress fellow cocktail party minglers. But, this season's feel-good romantic comedy will soothe your shopping-period fried neurons with a quick fix of romantic revelry.
In the opening scene, Gwyn Marcus (Sarah Jessica Parker), a twenty-something advertising copywriter, recounts her past love life to the camera, explaining that she is currently experiencing a dry spell. This déjà-vu-inducing scene (remember the cute old couples describing their romantic history in "When Harry Met Sally?") takes the camera into her past to show us what she's talking about. There it explores Gwyn's relationship with her then boyfriend Matt (Gil Bellows), a sensitive chimp researcher.
Matt proposes in typically adorably awkward fashion, "I was thinking maybe you'd want to get married." He offers her his mother's napkin ring, explaining that he knew she wouldn't go for the "big diamond" thing. This scene is absurd enough to be reminiscent of your own life, while still lacking that tiresome Nora Ephron-y-this-dialogue-is-so-real-you-would-have-s aid-it-yourself-if-only-Meg-Ryan-hadn't-come-out-w ith-it-first flavor.
As Gwen discovers the adultery in her parents' and siblings' marriages, she begins to question her own decision to marry. At her sister's wedding, Gwyn's father, (played by "Moscow on the Hudson" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," writer/director Paul Mazursky), confides to her that he believes her mother (Mia Farrow) is having an affair. Gwyn reassures her father that no one has a better relationship than he and her mother--only to find out the next day that her mother has been seeing Gwyn's grandmother's sexy tatooed Cuban nurse Antonio (Antonio Banderas) without remorse.
Just before Gwyn blames her mother for everything, she finds out from an accidental ladies room run-in that her father has been involved with his travel agent, Zelda (Kelly Bishop) for years. To complicate matters even further, Gwyn learns that her brother, Jordan (Kevin Pollack) is leaving his pregnant wife Terri (Barbara Garrick) to move in with his business partner's supermodel wife, played by supermodel Naomi Campbell.
While all these comings and goings, break ups and break downs might seem tiresome in summary, the film, cushioned with Gwyn's natural humor, progresses in an engagingly realistic manner.
All of Gwyn's punch lines are written to precede an immediate cut to the next scene This Woody Allen technique renders the film fluid enough that one can ignore the potentially annoying surplus of Gwyn's cute witticisms.
Underscoring most of the film, the thirties jazz soundtrack lends a romantic coherence to otherwise disjointed scene transitions.
For all of its bantering humor, "Miami Rhapsody" does manage to address an often unexplored theme--the ambivalence women feel towards the commitment of marriage.
Ironically, the inspiration for this comic look at matrimony from a woman's point of view comes from a man--the film's writer, producer and director, David Frankel '81. Though influenced by both Woody Allen and Nora Ephorn, Frankel creates a unique female comic role which is neither neurotic nor sappy. Through sharp dialogue and a genuinely funny performance from Parker, Frankel refreshingly portrays love in the 90's.
"Miami Rhapsody" won't change your views on market inflation or oppression of the impoverished classes. But it's humorous, witty, slice-of-life, we-can-work-it-out-honey take on romance (and it's strategically-timed Valentine's Dayish release) makes it the perfect film to see with a significant other who's been slightly cold ever since you ditched him or her to head for the sourcebook line.