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Monday, 29 August 2016

Retro Review: Forget Paris (1995)

Forget Paris
Cast: Billy Crystal, Debra Winger, Joe Mantegna, Cathy Moriarty, John Spencer
Genre: Romantic Comedy
U.S Lifetime Gross: $33, 177, 694

Plot: Waiting at the restaurant for their married friends Mickey (Billy Crystal) and Ellen (Debra Winger) to arrive, a group of friends share a story of Mickey & Ellen's relationship with Andy (Joe Mantegna) and Liz (Cynthia Stevenson), a soon-to-be-wed couple. When NBA referee Mickey travels to Paris to bury his father, the casket is lost by the airline. The employee tasked with helping Mickey is Ellen. The incident brings them together, but a number of things threaten to pull them apart

'A Pleasant & Peculiar Romantic Comedy That Functions More Like A Comedy'

Mickey is an NBA referee, who calls out player Patrick Ewing and tosses Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out of a farewell game. Whilst in Paris tending to his father's burial, he meets Ellen who helps him to bury him -only to be told by the airline that they had lost the body. Mickey becomes upset and Ellen feels sorry for what happened. They then later meet up at a cemetery, then one thing leads to another after Mickey stays over at Ellen's & the pair share a romantic bond. Whilst all these seems pleasant and nice enough as it is, unfortunately, it is not very compelling and engaging enough to be worthwhile. And that, despite being amiable and likeable, is what prevents it from being a great rom-com. 

Forget Paris doesn't function like a traditional rom-com, but more like an episode of a TV sitcom series; it's nice and pleasant enough but nothing really spellbinding or anything that blows you away. But it definitely makes a nice change of pace and direction from What Harry Met Sally. It operates in a different way. The way it is structured is in a fashion that is similar to Woody Allen's Annie Hall, for instance. You see the relationship developing between an NBA referee and customer service airline manager coming together, only to see it go through a rocky period and later redeeming itself in the end. To see a couple fall in love, only to see their relationship go through a series of issues is a good change to the conventional,' boy- meets- girl, boy- and- girl has feelings for each other and boy- and- girl- fall- in- love' formula. You have Debra Winger excelling at the dramatic parts, but who is not so sufficient at comedy, and vice-versa with Billy Crystal who is stronger in the comedic aspects as he is okay in the dramatic parts. Debra Winger looked comfortable in the rom-com role here, which is a role she doesn't play very often. Billy Crystal, who has dabbled with When Harry Met Sally has played the rom-com role before and based on his performance here, it seems he is familiar with how the sub-genre operates. When you have these two opposite types of actors onscreen together, they each bring qualities that compensate for one another's weaknesses. They both have okay chemistry on screen and are surprisingly well-matched & plausible. 

Other than Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal is your go-to romantic male lead, who doesn't fulfil the necessary requirements, stereotype or image of what he should look like. He's not a heart-throb type with huge muscles, but he has qualities that are endearing and makes you want to fall in love with his charm, sense of humour and personality. 

Forget Paris isn't really a romantic comedy in its approach and when it tries to be it doesn't quite work out as well, but when it is perceived as a straight -on comedy, which it does so, it is brimming with some interesting accounts of love and that it takes a lot of effort for 2 people to make it work, in the long run. 

It has tiny moments that are amusing, light and frothy, but not saccharine and cheesy. Seeing the trials and tribulations of Mickey and Ellen is at times interesting - yet nice. The script itself, however, is under-cooked and duly in need of some more work and some parts of the film but for some of the comedy, felt flat and were not very memorable. & I literately cannot stress this point enough so many times when I review comedy movies and romantic comedy movies and say they need to be at most sufficiently amusing. Forget Paris needed to have 2 or 3 more interesting scenes and be way funnier, although I was hoping with Billy in the movie, he would inject much more of the humour. If you have a comedian playing the protagonist or love interest in a rom-com, it's essential I reckon to have their comedic talents utilised (or if their brand of humour is really wacky and OTT to have it toned down). Seeing this is a film about love, romance and in the context of comedy. Yet that doesn't seem to be the case here. 

Also, the fertility treatment segment I must admit wasn't good and the moment where Ellen drops a bomb by telling Mickey she is already married, I felt that the timing of that announcement happened way too soon, that she could've mentioned this halfway through or during the last third of the film. This would've then brought more tension to the story and made it more interesting. The on again/off again part of their relationship did become a bit tiresome as well. 

Some critics noted the idea of telling Mickey and Ellen's story in flashback by their friends is a weak gimmick; I for one found it an interesting and innovative way of narrating a story in a rom-com, and as it doesn't make it any less or more predictable. Plus, it makes it stand out more. Billy Crystal directed, wrote and starred in this movie, and I must say, he gets an 'A' for effort. 

By the end of the film, it's less of a case of Mickey and Ellen being in love, figuring out what's more important in each other's lives and more of love prevailing in the end, which is an important message to take from the movie. The moment when Ellen and Mickey reconcile and kiss on the basketball court was lovely. 

Forget Paris isn't entirely forgettable as a rom-com, but the script ought to have yielded so much more. 

Final Verdict

It may lack the charm, familiarity and razzmatazz of When Harry Met Sally, but Forget Paris is still a relatively cute rom-com, which whilst it won't blow many people's minds, - there is a very Woody Allen-esque feel to it for fans of romcoms or people who do not necessarily enjoy romcoms -, this is an interesting - yet peculiar movie to watch. I liked the fact that it is not a clone of When Harry Met Sally and it doesn't try to be. 

This film is pleasant, inoffensive and nice and though it's amusing, it's not as amusing and funny as I'd have liked it to be and as well structured as it is, it does feel a little too lightweight. The casting was interesting, but the script should have been a whole lot better. 

To sum it up in 2 words: it's nice. 


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