Smile Like Yours, A

A Smile Like Yours, directed by Keith Samples (co-written by Samples
and Kevin Meyer), starts off as a kind of throwback to those 1950s comedies in
which a lovable ditz of a wife went around getting into trouble which her
steady, long-suffering straight-man of a husband would then have to get her out
of. George Burns and Gracie Allen, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball come irresistably
to mind. Presumably they are meant to, since there is one long scene in the
middle of the movie in which our updated couple, Danny and Jennifer Robertson
(Greg Kinnear and Lauren Holly) simply sit and watch the episode of
“I Love
Lucy” in which Ricky gets the news, in
a typically wacky fashion, that Lucy is pregnant.

The thread of connection here is that Danny and Jennifer are trying to
conceive a child and are unable to do so. Predictable jokes and over-familiar
situations abound as the two make love in odd places and at odd times, then
visit a fertility clinic with all its potential for cute embarrassment. A large,
grim-faced, unsympathetic woman nurse takes a prurient interest in Danny and
looks like a very big baby herself. Each partner has a funny friend at
work — Danny installs elevators along with marriage-weary Steve (Jay Thomas)
while Jennifer sells perfumes and
along with man-hungry Nancy (Joan Cusack) — and each has a potential suitor
just waiting for the inevitable moment when we know misunderstanding will
(temporarily) drive them apart. Danny is pursued by a glamorous architect called
Lindsay (Jill Hennessy) and Jennifer, so that she may be elevated above the
level of sex object, is courted for a perfume she has invented by Richard
Halstrom (Christopher McDonald), a big cosmetics tycoon. Naturally she proves a
shrewd businesswoman. Nowadays, a girl
can’t overdo the ditzy act.

There are only two things wrong with this movie, the plot and the stars. The
plot revolves, as plots in these kinds of movies almost invariably do, around
the temporary estrangement of the principals, but this is so artificial as to be
unbelievable. Jennifer lies to Danny on two occasions, once when she takes his
sperm to the doctor (Donald Moffat) for testing without his permission and then
again when she is entertaining offers from Halstrom. There is not enough reason
given for either of these deceptions for them to make much sense to us, and so
Danny’s anger when he finds out also
looks strange, particularly as he has been seeing the architect (though avoiding
any sexual entanglement) on the sly.
didn’t have to lie to me,
Jennifer,” says reproachful Danny.
“I love you enough to handle the
truth, whatever it is.” But
there’s the problem:
truth” , as it turns out, is not
something that requires much handling. So what is all the fuss about?

But the problems with the plot are nothing compared to the problems with the
stars. There is simply no other way to say it: Greg Kinnear and Lauren Holly are
neither attractive enough nor likeable enough for us to care very much what
happens to them. They are smug, self-centered yuppies with unremarkable
intelligence or wit and bland looks. One cannot imagine anyone lusting after
either of them, let alone the stunning Miss Hennessy. Presumably their mutual
attraction is accounted for by the fact that they are of the same sub-species,
but it remains a mystery why it is that they have this strong desire to
reproduce themselves. In short, they are utterly charmless. Cary Grant and
Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable and Sophia
Loren might have brought it off. These two, never.

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