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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Retro Review: Three Men & A Little Lady (1990)

Three Men & A Little Lady
Cast: Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, Ted Danson, Nancy Travis, Christopher Cazenove 
Genre: Comedy
U.S Lifetime Gross: $76 million 

Plot: Peter (Tom Selleck), Michael (Steve Guttenberg) and Jack (Ted Danson) live with Jack's ex-girlfriend, Sylvia (Nancy Travis) & her daughter, Mary (Robin Weisman), whom the guys have raised since infancy. Sylvia is pursuing a career on Broadway where she meets director, Edward (Christopher Cazenove) & quickly falls in love with him. When Sylvia breaks the news that she's engaged & preparing to move to England, the guys realise that Edward may not have her and Mary's best interests at heart 

'Three Men, A Little Lady And Terrible British Cliches'

Three Men and a Little Lady is one of those sequels nobody asked for, nor required a sequel, yet the producers and director thought 'we might as well take advantage of the first film's success and make another'. 

The follow-up to the 1987 movie sees Mary's three dads living in domestic bliss, along with Sylvia. Mary has now become a 5- yr- old who lives with her mother, Sylvia. She announces to Peter, Jack and Michael that she is going to get married to a director from Britain and move to England permanently with Mary. They take the news well - that is until Mary tells them later on what a jerk he really is.

Peter, Michael and Jack make a transatlantic trip all the way to the UK - or as it was known in 1989 as England or London to be more exact, to prevent Sylvia - played by an American Nancy Travis (they could've went all out casting a British actress but instead opted for someone who could easily put on a fake accent and pass themselves as British) - marrying some 'toff', who in turn loathes Mary, as well as preventing their adopted daughter, Mary from being sent to boarding school. This potential story-line would have been better, had it acted as an additional subplot for Mary and her fathers going there to explore the culture and getting a better understanding of the British way of life. But no - rather instead this movie obviously mocks the (or be it our) culture and everything associated with it; even though it is a comedy and we shouldn't take everything to heart, there is something in the cliches and stereotypes that borders on xenophobic to the extent that it is almost irritating. 

I know it is a movie and all, but these British characters depictions - as fictional as those depictions are- are still nationalities of people; that fictional part of London that when some people outside of the UK see this probably think all British people are like this in real life. When in reality, that is not how it is. 

I take issue with all the British characters were either toffs, stereotypes as posh- speaking, old, tea drinking, stuck-up, good-for-nothings, and oddballs, and were dumb or obnoxious. And London today is lot more cosmopolitan, city-based. In fact, I will debate that the countryside setting is not London-like. Then, of course, the film descends into cringe territory with the daddies rapping scene that made my ears bleed (& there I thought MC Hammer was corny), the sentimentality going into overboard during and throughout the movie and so-called childish humour that comes across as not being humourous when Mary asks what a penis is. Though the acting performances but for the young actress playing Mary range from substantial to good, the humour itself, particularly when it delves into responsibility and attachment is not exactly funny - and I don't mean it in a ha-ha-ha, really funny type of way but it's not highly amusing for a so-called comedy/romantic comedy to be. Its production values are also very TV sitcom-ish.  

With the opening montage of Mary as a baby then growing up to be the girl she is, why not make a movie based around that and of her development and her relationship with her dads and mother and build that around the father and her mother in their coming together as a couple? Instead of throwing in the plot device that they have to travel across England. The relationships aspect also felt hollow and false; it didn't feel genuine to me to the point it made me wince at times, and its depiction was so typically cliched. 

The whole thing just reeked of cookie-cutter-ish. 

The film feels dated, is so blase and tries to be hip and cool as exemplified in one scene where they try to rap. And the stereotypes and cliches as awful as they are are proof how tiring this whole script feels. If this movie had been made in Britain and in place of the British cliches there were American ones, people in America would be upset. 

But one aspect where this film has one advantage over the prequel is the fact that Mary is a little girl, and no longer a baby and with this, the story builds around her, her living situation with her non-biological 3 dads and her mother.

The romance angle with Michael and Sylvia is both hollow and laborious. 

Three Men and a Little Lady is really more about One Man, A Woman but with 2 Men & a Little Lady on the side; Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson - so-called integral actors in the first movie - are practically sidelined in this follow-up and pretty much play second fiddle, or be it are overshadowed. The ending is predictable and as expected, and yet despite some of the worst British stereotypes and bad cliches I've seen on screen, one annoying child character and the movie's cringe-inducing factor, it is at best okay.

Final Verdict:

Both films Three Men and a Baby and a Little Lady deserves to be remade with an actual British actress playing Sylvia.  

If you enjoy this film a lot, so be it - I won't hold that against you. But I believe this sequel would have been far more enjoyable and less cringing, minus the awful and embarrassing British stereotypes and terrible cliches. 

The sequel is more about Peter and Sylvia and Sylvia's romantic false lead, who himself hates children.

Nonetheless, if I had the choice, I'd rather listen to the song by Boy Meets Girl 'Waiting For A Star To fall' that features on the motion picture soundtrack over and over again, rather than be forced to sit through this movie. 

Whatever charm the prequel had, is completely lacking in Three Men & A Little Lady.


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