Given just one deft comic, the flat visual jokes fail to cover the real mistake of trying to build a romantic comedy on a nasty premise.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Even Meg Ryan's drop-dead smile cannot save "Addicted to Love" from sinking under the weight of its troubles. Astronomer Sam (Matthew Broderick) and school teacher Linda (Kelly Preston) adore each other in cheerful harmony until Linda takes off for New York to sample the big wide world and fails to return.

Small-town Sam races after her and sets up shop in a condemned builidng across the street from the loft where Linda and Anton (Tcheky Karyo), a former French waiter turned fancy New York restaurateur, are making love round the clock. Armed with a reverse lens that projects images of the lovers on his dingy apartment wall, Sam is content just to spy on his Linda.

These early scenes of New York are filmed with great imagination and ingenuity. One is a marvelous abstraction of Sam painting his wall white in front of a flickering video image that comes to vivid life in sections as he paints. It's a surreal wonder of a sight.

And then Maggie (Meg Ryan) arrives. Bursting into the miserable condemned building with a duffel of techie stuff, Maggie stands there, hands on hips, a spiky biker in black helmet and jumpsuit. She is the restaurateur's ex-fiance, and she has come equipped to add the soundtrack to Sam's video. But, while Sam wants only to watch his beloved, Maggie is determined to dispatch hers: "When I'm done with him, he'll be just a twitching little stain on the floor."

Revenge is a sticky premise for a romantic comedy. As the director tries to disguise his hapless hypothesis by spinning into slapstick, we endure a costumed monkey, water pistols, and an accident that breaks both arms of one principal, leaving him to play his role in a body cast. After a while, the jokes begin to sound like darts bouncing off steel.

Meg Ryan tries to save the movie by making Maggie a quick- witted cynic, and she nearly succeeds on nerve alone. Gorgeous in goggles and a feather boa, or in red velvet topped by a black turban, she is an outrageous, wisecracking eccentric, but she can't carry the film.

The talented Matthew Broderick, fine early on as the desperately earnest guy who is left behind, is woefully miscast when he becomes the romantic lead. Fleshy of body and nerdy by nature, his gentle Sam offers no foil for Meg Ryan's fast-talking Maggie. Kelly Preston seems devoid of personality, adding no juice to the character of Linda or to the four-way equation. Mr. Karyo's Anton has his moments, but, with the exception of Meg Ryan, these people just aren't funny.

Four stand-out leads might have been able to make light, sophisticated fun of two spurned lovers looking to even the score. Given just one deft comic, the flat visual jokes fail to cover the real mistake of trying to build a romantic comedy on a nasty premise.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 495
Studio : Warner Bros.
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h40m

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