Lover's Knot

on July 12, 1996 by Christine James
   A great idea for a paranormally tinged romantic comedy is unfulfilled due to a predominantly unimaginative, pat script. Tim Curry plays a caseworker in the employ of the love god Cupid. His job: to finally pair two soulmates (Bill Campbell and Jennifer Grey) who've fallen in love repeatedly over the course of several lifetimes, but in each instance they've managed to muck things up and deprive themselves of living happily ever after. Curry is his usual slyly charming self as the world-weary, sardonic but benevolent cosmic matchmaker. Campbell and Grey are for the most part likable in their roles, but certain character flaws, like tendencies toward simpiness and bitchiness, respectively, make them hard to care about. Mark Sheppard enlivens the proceedings as Nigel, Campbell's sex-crazed but perceptive, articulate and well-intentioned roommate, and Tom McTigue and Holly Fulger are fun as the giggly, cloyingly-in-love married couple who introduced our protagonists.
   Facilitating the narrative structure is a documentary format interspliced with the story's progression; supporting and peripheral characters are interviewed concerning the up-and-down romance of the spiritually linked couple. Although the documentary is a little confusing--it's never established who is conducting the interviews or why--it sets up some of the film's most clever moments, in which the likes of William Shakespeare (Byrne Piven) and Andrew Marvell (Adam Ant) breach the fourth dimension to provide wry and unexpectedly risque commentaries on the situation at hand. At other times, pop culture references are thrown in randomly for dumb non-sequitur laughs, like Dawn Wells of "Gilligan's Island" in full Maryanne garb giving her take on the subject, or Dr. Joyce Brothers doing her media sexpert spiel.
   More should have been done with the lovers' past-life liaisons; only brief looks at two previous incarnations are glimpsed. Certainly a lifetime in Ireland and an ensuing explanation of the concept of the Celtic lovers' knot would be expected at a minimum. (Grey's character does wear a pendant that's been handed down in her family through the ages that ties into all her past lives--but, oddly, it's not a lovers' knot.) Although writer/director Pete Shaner shows promise, it's a pity he didn't take care to craft a more intriguing story to live up to the premise.    Starring Bill Campbell, Jennifer Grey and Tim Curry. Directed and written by Pete Shaner. Produced by Paul A. Kaufman and Paul Rauch. A Legacy release. Romantic comedy. Rated R for sexuality. Running time: 86 min.
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