That Old Feeling

on April 04, 1997 by Christine James
   Thankfully not the "First Wives Club" redux one might expect, "That Old Feeling" instead celebrates the firepower of a reignited old flame. Actress Lilly (Bette Midler) and author Dan (Dennis Farina) are a bitterly divorced couple who haven't seen each other for years. The wedding of their daughter Molly (Paula Marshall) forces a reunion; a cliched shouting-match-turns-to-passionate-groping scene ensues, capped with a tryst in a car. That this takes place within the first few minutes of the film is a relief; there is always the danger in sexual-tension comedies that this trite inevitability is the central action to which all else builds. Here, fortunately, that's merely the jumping-off point.
   From there, the newly friendly Lilly and Dan agree to part ways, as both have long been remarried and are feeling somewhat guilty about their adulterous auto encounter. But they soon realize "that old feeling" is still there and end up in bed again, with silly puppy-love smiles across their faces. The spurned spouses soon discover the infidelities, but before a confrontation can take place the paramours escape to be alone.
   What follows is a hit-and-miss combination of humorous hijinks and predictable romantic entanglements. It seems that Lilly, Dan and Molly have all married cartoonishly unlikable spouses, which conveniently frees them for other pursuits. Lilly and Dan push their (annoyingly) uptight daughter towards a rough-around-the-edges but good-hearted paparazzo (Danny Nucci), who helps take some of the starch out of Molly's collar. Meanwhile, to make the adultery acceptable, the cuckolded counterparts engage in increasingly preposterous behavior. It's all goofy, but adequately amusing, thanks mostly to scenery-chewer Midler. Starring Bette Midler, Dennis Farina, Paula Marshall and Danny Nucci. Directed by Carl Reiner. Written by Leslie Dixon. Produced by Leslie Dixon and Bonnie Bruckheimer. A Universal release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and sex-related material. Running time: 105 min
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