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Saturday, 27 April 2019

Retro Review: One Fine Day (1996)

One Fine Day
Cast: Michelle Pfieffer, George Clooney, Charles Durning, Alex D. Linz, Mae Whitman, Holland Taylor
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $97 million

Plot: The lives of two strangers and their young children unexpectedly intersect on one hectic stressful day in New York City

'A Day One Would Rather Forget'

Clooney does well in an effortless and thankless role as newspaper columnist Jack Taylor, without truly adding anything new or that different to it. Michelle Pfieffer is Melanie: a workaholic architect and single mother, who doesn't have time for kids. When her son Sammy arrives late at school, his class take off on a school trip minus Sammy, and with that, Melanie has no choice but to care for him. When Melanie and Jack bump into each other whilst saddled with the two children, one day, it isn't long until sparks fly between the two adults.

One Fine Day was a big deal in 1996: seen by many quarters as the film that truly ignited George Clooney's major motion picture acting spark, after years hitting the big time as a TV actor on NBC's ER, in addition to becoming another milestone in Michelle Pfieffer's illustrious career; by today's standards, it's watchable in places thanks to the leads. Clooney's precedent and subsequent offerings, The Peacemaker, From Dusk Til Dawn, Three Kings, Out of Sight were (with the former, forgettable &) either guilty pleasures or cult classics that were daring, different and niche. This film isn't niche, more like populist and mainstream; it's a romantic comedy and one that draws attention from the female demographic. 

George Clooney's stardom baffles me still to this day: he has the good looks, an everyman quality, the star appeal and is as famous and well known such as Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, Tom Hanks that he could've made for a great movie superstar and leading man - yet despite all of this, arguably, he has never truly blossomed into a prominent movie actor and had more of the commercial blockbusters, - and unlike Williams and Hanks who both conveniently transitioned from TV onto film, Clooney hasn't had more of a broad and comprehensive film career to back up his bankability and net worth as a celebrity & Hollywood movie star. His schtick was okay back in the early 1990s when he first blew up via the medical drama, ER, but over time, he has resorted to doing and appearing in fewer of the glossy big budget and commercial motion pictures and turned his attentions to directing & producing. I think the comic book disaster of 1997's Batman and Robin pretty much derailed Clooney's commercial worth from a mainstream front and all in spite of appearing in the Ocean's trilogy & The Perfect Storm. His recent stint was in a spate of Nescafe Nespresso coffee TV commercials, which probably says it all. 

One year on from Dangerous Minds, which I enjoyed a great deal, the ever-experienced Michelle Pfieffer gave the rom-com and drama genres some diversity in 1996 with One Fine Day and Up Close & Personal alongside Robert Redford and to show she is able to project as much charm as its mainstays Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. Unfortunately, Melanie is a whining grouch who spends most of the time with a straight face and not smiling and laughing as much.

One Fine Day becomes an overlong and routinely sappy rom-com with not one single notable or surprising twist or sting in its tail and the bickering between Clooney's and Pfieffer's characters, whilst it is, erm, fine at first, this eventually grates and besides the romance part, the film has nothing else left in the tank.

One of the many other reasons why rom-coms are most people's least liked sub-genres in film is because many of these movies don't have anything else to offer that is entertaining and watchable, besides the romance and star leads. Erotic dramas and comedies are really R & X-rated versions of romantic dramas and comedies: it's just that they have more sex scenes in them and just as little imagination, creativity and are as banal as rom-coms.

But going back to the film also, the kids that include Liar Liar and Home Alone 3's Alex D. Linz, were annoying; the boy was a brat and the girl was bland, and Jack and Melanie aren't too dissimilar to each other in terms of personality traits (besides the former being irresponsible and the latter as a control freak) and the subplots with Jack determined to verify a newspaper column and Melanie juggling her meetings become the least interesting aspects of the movie, as they are conceived in such throwaway fashion wherein they could have helped spearheaded the romance further. 

However, One Fine Day makes the mistake of keeping the love interests apart for considerable periods of time with not enough but not too many scenes of them together, whilst it flip-flops in so many directions. It was incohesive. The problem with this is when it does so, not one single idea is made entertaining enough. The romance part itself is relegated to two glimpses and the pairing lack genuine warmth for me to get them to get together and the soundtrack ranges from okay to toe-curlingly sappy.

Final Verdict

Minus Clooney and Pfieffer, this would be laboured and completely forgettable; with Clooney and Pfieffer, they manage to inject some watchability to the proceedings, but due to the frenetic pacing, means there wasn't a great deal when it comes to fleshing out their onscreen relationship and with that in mind, their characters' chemistry was moot. They spent more time bickering, the love/hate ordeal that they have going on also should have been meatier. If this was conceived better, then rather than the bickering becoming tiresome and offputting, this would have elicited some genuine sexual tension and urges between the two lead characters. 

Alas, this is a blase rom-com and a harmless, fluffy, inoffensive and paint-by-numbers job that with lesser-known stars in place of Clooney and Pfieffer, One Fine Day would rarely attract much attention.


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