The drama of this film is the elephant in the room that everyone pretends to ignore. Bob Rueland (David Duchovny--The X Files) is a successful Chicago architectural engineer who is emotionally crushed when his gorilla-training wife (a role apparently inspired by real-life Gorilla Foundation president Dr. Penny Patterson), Elizabeth (Joely Richardson--101 Dalmatians), dies in some unspecified accident that we never really see. I guess they thought it might bring us down. Fortunately, Elizabeth filled out her organ donor card, affording local waitress Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver--Good Will Hunting) a second chance to live.
The wacky bonus, of course, is that the uncanny Hand of Fate brings Grace and Bob together. From this point forward, the unrealized drama of Elizabeth's death is completely overshadowed by about ninety minutes of schticky banter in which Archie Bunker, er... Carrol O'Connor, runs through a non-stop routine of Sinatra references and boob-job jokes. And Bob and Grace fall in love.
The romance of this picture is fun and believable. Duchovny and Driver have a chemistry that's heartwarming and funny to watch. This movie would have gone a lot further if they'd either dropped the heart transplant all together or taken it more seriously. It's never really justified anyway and only winds up distracting us from the film's central relationship. Performances from Robert Loggia and Jim Belushi are endearing and enjoyable, and director Bonnie Hunt gives a strong performance as Grace's supportive friend, Megan. David Alan Grier could have made a valuable contribution in his rare dramatic role as Bob's comforting buddy, if the character's relevance hadn't been undercut by the removal of all drama from the film. Whoops!
Driver Returns to fine Italian dining.
Run time: 115 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th April 2000
Distributed by: MGM Distribution
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 60 Rotten: 38
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Bonnie Hunt
Producer: Jennie Lew Tugend
Starring: David Duchovny as Bob Rueland, Minnie Driver as Grace Briggs, Carroll O'Connor as Marty O'Reilly, Robert Loggia as Angelo Pardipillo, James Belushi as Joe Dayton, Bonnie Hunt as Megan Dayton