Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cousins (1989) [PG-13] ****

Larry Kozinski (Ted Danson) is, in the words of his Uncle Phil: a failure at everything except life. Larry's currently a ballroom dance instructor, but he's been a real estate agent and a securities analyst. He changes careers every three years or so, whenever he feels he might become successful. Larry's been married for two years to Tish (Sean Young) a lovely but scatterbrained young woman with low self-esteem whom Larry describes as the Bride of Bloomingdale's. And living with Larry and Tish is Mitch, Larry's rebellious teenage son from his first marriage.

When Uncle Phil marries Edie (Norma Aleandro), Larry meets her lovely daughter Maria (Isabella Rossellini), and when Maria's husband Tom (William L. Petersen), an inveterate womanizer, seduces Tish at the wedding, Larry and Maria find themselves becoming friends, confidants and potentially much more, as they try to deal with their spouses' affair.

Sadly, Uncle Phil dies of a heart attack, and when his brother Vince (Lloyd Bridges), Larry's father, meets widowed Edie after the funeral, the stage is set for Vince and Edie to fall in love and marry, thus making Larry and Maria kissing cousins. This is a wonderful romantic comedy. The screenplay is inspired, with some memorable dialogue, and the casting is brilliant. Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini have incredible romantic chemistry; their eyes sparkle and they can hardly keep their hands off one another as they struggle to honor their wedding vows and not imitate their cheating spouses. If you enjoy warm, character-driven, light romantic comedies with an extended family feeling and a happy ending, films like 27 DressesValentine's Day and The Wedding Date, then you will probably really enjoy Cousins.

This is a far better romantic comedy than many film critics gave it credit for. And, there's a deliciously subtle irony in this film. Isabella Rossellini's mother, Ingrid Bergman had a series of real-life affairs, in many respects like the on-screen affair between Maria (Isabella) and Larry (Ted Danson). And the fact that Isabella resembles her mother not only in physical appearance, but in mannerisms as well, adds to the irony. To prove this to yourself, I invite you to see the 2015 documentary Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words, on DVD and Blu-ray.

Labels: comedy, romance, wedding
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=58, viewers=62)