Don't feel too bad about giving up on " 'Til There Was You." Its makers did.
The film is one of those romantic comedies whereby two lost souls meant for each other wend their way through a series of highly entertaining, tension-building contrivances before finally falling into each other's arms.
In this case, though, the path to romance is laborious and tedious and, in the end, has very little to do with the plot. It's as though director Scott Winant finally said: "You know, I'm getting tired. Let's just get these two kids together and get this thing over with." I felt exactly the same way.
Pity poor Jeanne Tripplehorn, an accessory in movies such as "Waterworld" and "Basic Instinct" who is given a crack here at a leading role. As Gwen Moss, a ghostwriter who clings to a belief in storybook romance, Tripplehorn doesn't demonstrate any particular gift for comedy, merely confusion, whininess and moist eyes. It doesn't help that Winant's own sense of funny is to have Tripplehorn walk face-first into a steel beam. Twice.
Dylan McDermott, of television's "The Practice," emerges unscathed physically but without glory. The script doesn't give him much to do other than smirk, which he does prodigiously. He plays a young architect named Nick Dawkan, who designs angular, forbidding buildings -- they look like something the Flintstones might live in. His architecture is meant to reflect his own aloofness, which, according to the film's psychobabble, has something to do with his being the son of a failed artist/alcoholic father.
There's no question that both Nick and Jeanne are damaged goods. The movie just never makes a convincing case that the answer to their problems is each other. Their intersection is a lovely historic Los Angeles apartment building called La Fortuna that Gwen moves into and that Nick is hoping to tear down.
The movie has a long, tedious build-up, which, in the end, has nothing to do with getting the crazy kids together. In other words, figure the first seven-eighths of the movie as a waste of time. The last eighth isn't much of an improvement.
Very little is amusing in all of this; the lighting is murky, the sound is mumbly, and will someone please tell the piano player to knock it off? Sarah Jessica Parker, whose skin is an unhealthy shade of gray, shows up as a one-time child television star who overcomes her narcissism by falling in love with McDermott. And Michael Tucker, late of "L.A. Law," provides the only sustained bit of humor as Gwen's father, who force-feeds some reality into her idealized view of her parents' marriage. The laughs are brief and rarely repeated.
' 'Til There Was You'
Starring Jeanne Tripplehorn and Dylan McDermott
Directed by Scott Winant
Released by Paramount Pictures
Rated PG-13 (language, sexual innuendo)
Sun Score: *
Pub Date: 5/30/97