|DVD Romantic Comedy|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 18 January 2000|
Even for people (like this reviewer) who as a general rule don’t particularly want to see Billy Crystal as the lead in a romantic comedy, ‘Forget Paris’ is a movie that sneaks its way into our affections by playing against genre conventions and offering recognizable human behaviors and dilemmas. The script by Crystal & Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel is full of witty one-liners, as befites their individual and joint writing pedigrees, but what distinguishes this love story from its peers is the buoyant balance director Crystal and his cast find between playfulness and poignancy. The stumbling blocks to happiness here are not unlikely misunderstandings but all too common conflicts that are understood only too well.
Mickey (Crystal) is a professional basketball referee, deeply set in his ways, devoted to his work and thoroughly uncompromising. However, when he has to travel to Paris on a brief trip to bury his father, he meets Ellen (Debra Winger), a transplanted Francophile American. Attraction then genuine feeling soon blossom. A typical movie happy ending is achieved - but in ‘Forget Paris,’ it’s only the beginning. Ellen and Mickey are soon confronted with the not-inconsiderable compromises and sacrifices that are the byproducts of commitment. With growing hurt and bewilderment, both wonder why married life isn’t more like that terrific first week in Paris …
Visually, Paris makes a lovely backdrop. Mickey’s profession also provides lots of color, with well-shot game footage (especially on a pivotal call in Chapter 2). A host of professional basketball players including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appear as themselves, trading shots with one another and barbs with the prickly Mickey.
The sound mix is clean and pleasant, and the soundtrack is a classy job. Marc Shaiman’s score complements selections like Billie Holliday’s rendition of "Our Love Is Here To Stay" over a beguiling black-and-white montage of photos of disparate couples in Chapter 1. The song floats beautifully, with a tiny hint of tin in the upper registers of the orchestration, showing the age of the original recording rather than any actual flaw. Holliday’s soulful turn on "For All We Know" in Chapter 8 provides effective commentary on Mickey’s longing for Ellen. Contributions by Duke Ellington, Louis Prima and Cole Porter are also used potently throughout.
Director Crystal and his co-writers have crafted some outright uproarious moments. Chapter 13 has a sequence with Ellen and a pigeon that’s a testament to the skill of the film’s animal trainers, modern animatronics and the comedic skill and flat-out courage of actress Winger. However, the filmmakers also have a good grasp of the tug-of-war that goes on between two people who love each other. The issues here are no trivialities: they are presented humorously, but they are nevertheless formidable obstacles. It’s easy for love to bloom in Paris, but if love is to conquer all in day-to-day existence, it must be a mighty force indeed.