Monday, January 18, 2010

Robert Downey, Jr. Ouevre #5 - Chances Are

I didn't have very high hopes for this one. It looked like a cheesy late eighties romantic comedy that relied on the overused Hollywood reincarnation theme to carry the flick.

I was right and wrong. It is a cheesy late eighties romantic comedy that relies on the overused Hollywood reincarnation theme. But it's still good and very watchable.

Best of all as far as this project goes, Robert Downey has the lead although he doesn't appear immediately.

The movie begins with Corinne (Cybil Shepherd) marrying Louie (Chris McDonald (who despite acting in almost 150 vehicles will ALWAYS be Shooter McGavin to me)) and the best man Philip (Ryan O'Neil) expressing his love of Corinne to Louie as Corinne is walking down the aisle. A tad bit odd and inappropriate, don't you think?

The movie jumps forward a year to Corinne and Louie's first anniversary where we find Corinne is pregnant. Philip swings by to give them a cherry tree as a gift and is just too uncomfortably buddy-buddy with the both of them for my liking. It's a tight relationship.

Corinne and Louie are to have dinner together that evening. Louie is crossing the street to get to the restaurant and he is struck and killed by a car. He goes to heaven where he throws a tantrum about having to go back. Heaven accommodates him by allowing him to go back as a newly born baby boy in Cleveland. The bonehead administrator fails to give Louie the inoculation that will erase the memories of Louie's life.

Louie is reborn as Alex (Robert Downey). The movie fast forwards 20+ years where Alex is graduating from Yale (of course. No movie character ever graduates from St. Olaf College). He works as a page at the library (liking him already) and he helps out the always attractive Mary Stuart Masterson (who plays Miranda) by waiving an $83 fine (not as big a fan all of a sudden). Love the line where he gets the head librarian to go check out an emergency where someone is messing around with a Shakespeare tome ("They are fooling with the folio! And fiddling! Fooling and fiddling with the folio").

Alex gradumatates and goes to D.C. to try and land a job as a reporter with the Washington Post (apparently mailing resumes hadn't been invented yet). He is turned down but it turns out Philip is a writer there (and has won a Pulitzer! who woulda thunk it). Philip mysteriously befriends him and invites Alex over for dinner at Corinne's house where, it turns out, Miranda is Corinne's daughter.

Miranda falls for Alex. Being in his old house triggers Louie's memories and Louie sort of possesses Alex's mind. Corinne still pines for Louie, even seeking psychiatric help to try and get over him. So Alex, as Louie, still wants Corinne. Corinne wants Louie but isn't so sure about Alex being Louie. Philip has been sitting patiently for 20+ years waiting for Corinne to stop mourning and wants Corinne. Alex wouldn't mind having Miranda but as Louie is, appropriately, very much against the idea. Crazy antics ensue. The five of them get everything worked out.

It's a cute movie. I don't care much for Ryan O'Neal's character. The inability to make people average bugged me (forgot to mention that Corinne is a big whig at the Smithsonian). The clingy behavior of Philip rubbed me wrong, too.

Downey was good. He had to sort of play two roles. He could at times be convincing as Louie and he did alright balancing his desire for Miranda as Alex and his being protective of his daughter/not being creepy as Louie. Funny. Extremely charming. Definitely the most developed of all the characters in the film.

It surprised me how much I liked this. The ending seemed thrown together without much thought and there was all the other stuff that I didn't like. I'd recommend it, though.

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