Friday, January 14, 2011

80s Revisited: Three Men and a Little Lady

Three Men and a Little Lady (1990)
Directed by Emile Ardolino; screenplay by Charlie Peters; produced by Robert W. Cort & Ted Field

This sequel showed up only three years after Three Men and a Baby was a massive hit. But it always felt to me like it had been a much longer period of time. I don't know if it's because I had aged from 11 to 14 in that time period, or because the baby is now suddenly 6 or so years older, or really if it's just because the focus of the movie seems so different. The original got by on the charm of the leads and premise; this sequel really only exists so Touchstone can take another dip in the money pool.

Once the kid is no longer an infant with all of its attendant care needs, there's really no more comedy novelty in the premise. Even the screenplay seems to know this; it takes nearly all of the focus off the three leads--none of whom seem as popular or cool in 1990 as they did in 1987--and instead puts it all on Nancy Travis, the little lady's mother, and her return to England to marry a theater director who stepped off of the cliche delivery truck. Oh, he's cold, he hates kids, he's going to put little Mary in boarding school, blah blah blah. There are no surprises in store here for anyone.

Actually, what's sad is that we have the director of Dirty Dancing and Chances Are decidedly itching to make a British comedy. He can't wait to get past all of the heady feelings and the completely tension-free will-they-or-won't-they? dance around of Nancy Travis and Tom Selleck (his horrifying wedge cut is the source of more drama) so that he can get the characters to England and engage in the wacky, witty British comedy he so clearly wants to make and completely fails at.

(In fact, because of this film, Nuns on the Run, and King Ralph coming out within a year of each other, I spent too much of my early teenage years convinced that British comedy was awful. Thanks for nothing, terrible filmmakers.)

It's not surprising that I'd completely forgotten about nearly anything that happens in this movie. I've seen it a few times--once in the theater, and a few times on whichever one of Ted Turner's networks was running it seemingly every weekend for seven years or so, because for some reason (it's Tom Selleck) my Mom loves this movie. And yet, the thing is so formless and inconsequential it's just like eating air. It's not even the sugar-coated air of the pleasant first movie. It's just empty.

I did like Fiona Shaw, but I always like Fiona Shaw, even when she's given nothing to do but be a cartoon and sniff after Selleck.



Dan said...

You know they are making the third sequel now don't you? Three men and a bride.

Devilham said...

"because for some reason (it's Tom Selleck) my Mom loves this movie"

this made me laugh, your a good writer SF, even stuff I don't agree with are always a pleasure to read