They say lightning only strikes once, and for director Joel Schumacher it happened in 1989 with this remake of the French film Cousin Cousine. Formerly a flamboyant costume designer, Schumacher was well on his way to becoming The Worst Hollywood Director in Time Immemorial with a streak of flashy but asinine movies, including D.C. Cab and St. Elmo's Fire. However, before embarking on his record-breaking streak of terrible movies during the 1990s (Dying Young, Falling Down, Batman Forever, Flawless, etc.), J.S. somehow winded up directing this charming, funny, romantic and pleasing aberration of nature. Ted Danson, in his best film performance, stars as Larry, a free-spirited dance instructor with a teenage son and an irresponsible new wife, Tish (Sean Young). When Tish hooks up with serial adulterer Tom (William L. Peterson) at a family wedding, Larry and Tom's wife Maria (Isabella Rossellini) enact revenge on their unfaithfuls by creating the illusion of an affair between themselves. It all sounds very high concept, but in (gasp) Schumacher's hands, the story evolves and plays out very naturally, with a lot of warmth and little gratuitous melodrama. The cast is absolutely perfect, with Danson for once finding the perfect venue for his TV-sized charm. His chemistry with Rossellini is terrific and she is luminous throughout. It's hard to find a more consistently fine performer than Peterson, Young is at her least annoying, and Lloyd Bridges adds some spunk as Larry's father. Great credit for this success must lie at the feet of screenwriter Stephen Metcalfe, whose adaptation of Jean Charles Tacchella's French screenplay is a layered improvement over its European source. Given Schumacher's averages, one is tempted to give Metcalfe and the cast all the credit. Paramount presents Cousins title with a decent (if soft) anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and fine Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround mixes. Trailer, keep-case.
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