A Charming Mess

'I Could Never Be Your Woman' is a pretty odd movie.

I Could Never Be Your Woman is a pretty odd movie. It opens, rather strangely, with Mother Nature (comedy stalwart Tracey Ullman) talking directly the audience, sharing her ideas about people and the world today. From then on, she shows up sporadically in the film, this time sharing her thoughts with the main character. It’s a strange and often startling thing to see, really, and it defines the problem of this film: it’s all a little scatterbrained.

Rosie is a divorced 40 year old mother of one who hasn’t dated in years. She produces a struggling network TV show and constantly has to deal with strange network requests. On the job, she meets Adam, a young, talented comedic actor who charms her completely. They start dating, and Rosie has to start dealing with the fact that Adam is eleven years her junior. All the while, she has to deal with a sabotaging secretary, a prima donna actress, and having to raise her pre-teen daughter, who’s just started discovering boys.

There’s a lot of cleverness in this film. This film marks the return of Amy Heckerling, who’s already charmed us once with Clueless. She exercises the same comedic muscles here, giving us the same brand of quirky observational humor that made the previous movie work so well. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any focus.

Heckerling tries to do too much, really. In this film, she tries to combine elements of a romantic comedy, a mother-daughter drama, a network TV satire, a meditation on aging, and a general commentary on the society’s fascination with plastic surgery. That’s way too much to take in, and it really hurts the story in the long run. And Heckerling doesn’t really do a good job of weaving the stories together. Things seem to happen in isolation, with no real effect on the other disparate threads.

Not to say that the story is a complete disaster. Again, there’s a lot of cleverness here, and some truly funny moments. It’s just that it doesn’t all come together to form a compelling narrative. The direction is pretty scatterbrained as well, with no real unifying theme. While individually, the scenes can be pretty funny, they don’t all work together well.

Where this film shines is the cast. Michelle Pfeiffer is still gorgeous, and she still has the acting chops to keep us watching. The real star, though, is Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd has always been an absolute delight to watch, and here, he is reminiscent of a young Steve Martin. His comedic energy is just boundless, and he has enough charm to keep the entire film together, even when it all goes a little nuts. The supporting cast features some seriously funny people, such as Tracey Ullman, Fred Willard, David Mitchell and Jon Lovitz. They keep the scenes filled with personality.

This film really has its charms, and if one doesn’t think too hard about, then it’s actually pretty entertaining. The cast is almost enough to make this a straight recommendation, but in the end, it just doesn’t hold together well enough as a complete film. It’s still a mess, no matter how charming everybody is.

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