Two Much

Everything in this film attempts to be cute and coy, but it doesn't come off. Even the title tries to be clever in a nonsensical kind of way. A better title might have been Much of Two About Nothing. Pretending to be a romantic screwball comedy, the main element missing here is The Lubitsch Touch. Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, and Daryl Hannah are all attractive actors with box office draw, but they're performances are all too flat-footed for what should have been a sophisticated comedy. An art gallery dealer (Banderas) desperately trying to make ends meet, winds up unexpectedly fleeing some gangster types while, in the meantime, becoming involved with two sisters (Griffith and Hannah). He unintentionally becomes engaged to one, but falls in love with the other. The solution he chooses to the solve the complexities of the problems is to pretend that he is two people instead of one. That's nice and simple, now, isn't it? The only person who knows exactly what is going on throughout is his secretary, Gloria (Joan Cusak), and this seems to set her face twitching every time she reacts. Yes, everybody overacts their way through this film and the audience is supposed to laugh and think 'how tongue in cheek' instead of 'how fingers in throat.' Antonio Banderas still has that striking strut, but shows how ill-effected he was in his youth by Chaplin and Hal Roach. When Art (Banderas) becomes Bart (Banderas), he unties his ponytail and puts on a pair of spectacles. Nothing else changes. He walks the same, talks the same, and uses the same facial grimaces. But it seems to be enough to fool the ladies. Using that special quality that made Desi Arnez appealing, he attempts to top it off by becoming Lucille Ball in the 'swimming pool/bedroom' scene. Let's face it, Lucy did it better. (Speaking of Desi, isn't it interesting how actors with foreign dialects often charm women with their sex appeal; the recent cinema attests to this by such actors as Banderas, van Damme, Schwarzenegger, and, yes, even Stallone.)

And if we take a closer look, instead of readily accepting what is being shovelled toward us, we might discover one or two interesting things. The main character is a con-man who reads obituaries to rob widows of their money, tries to convince his own father (suffering from Korsakov's syndrome) that he is twins, sleeps with both his fiancee and the woman he loves (sisters) at the same time, and is so busy with various escapades that he can't manage to pay his bills. Naturally, he's a loveable, good- looking hero that we're all supposed to like. The women, on the other hand, are, respectively, are a not-too-bright beautiful blonde (she thinks 'Rimbaud' is 'Rambo') and a (supposedly) intelligent beautiful blonde who is involved with a married man. Both are weak at the knees within seconds when confronted with the Latin lover in either one of his guises. And the fact that neither one of them recognizes the trick being played upon them doesn't say an awful lot for either one's intelligence.

The only saving grace is Danny Aiello, who seems to understand what this kind of comedy is about and how it should be done. Every scene in which he appears is a breath of fresh air and he also manages, on one occasion, to show how well placed Melanie Griffith can be in this sort of comedy when opposite the appropriate actor (ironically, she's on the other end of the telephone with Banderas for this scene).

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett