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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mr. Wonderful

First of all, this film is better than most of Woody Allen's work. On paper this isn’t a movie I should like. Formulaic and not really the least bit original are ony two of its faults.  Calling Mr. Wonderful (1993) a romantic comedy is being very generous with the second adjective but it has what many films in this genre lack: it is sweet without being overly sentimental. Perhaps the writers went a bit overboard on the typical romcom gimmick; in this case the lead character is looking to marry off his ex-wife to keep from paying continued alimony in order to pursue his dream of refurbishing an old bowling alley. Perhaps all of the completely shitty movies in this genre have lowered the bar but with all its problems this movie is among my favorites. I have been looking for this movie on the web for years it seems so perhaps that made me think higher of it.

After watching it again I am happy to say that my first opinion holds. Some of the dialogue is really, really clunky and I don’t even like one of the lead actresses but none of that can take away from the fact that at its heart this has a big heart. I like the fact that the movie is populated by people who work for a living. From watching most American movies you would think that all of us work in advertising and we all have apartments with exposed brink.  The main character works for ConEd in NYC, his girlfriend is a nurse, and his ex-wife is a college student. Not only is the main character a working guy but he’s damn good at what he does. From most of the Hollywood offerings you come to believe that working class people don’t even have the right to love. The movie gets a lot of things right.

There are a few scenes in the movie that I love and make it worth watching. There is a long segment when the boys are developing their idea for the bowling alley that really shows the friendship they share.  In another favorite scene for me is when their wives and girlfriends are in the kitchen together discussing love.

The music is perfect and the film would be completely different without it. I like most of the characters, even some of the really minor roles are spot on. New York looks as good as ever. I’m glad I got the chance to see it again.

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