By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Cloning his dead wife.
Harry Wolper (Peter O’Toole) is an eccentric college professor obsessed with the idea of cloning his dead wife. With the help of an undergraduate assistant named Boris (Vincent Spano) he sets up a makeshift shed in his backyard and uses the university equipment for his experiments. He employs the services of Meli (Mariel Hemingway) a 19-year-old in desperate need of funds whose egg he uses as part of the cloning process. After a while she starts to fall in love with him and as the fetus of his dead wife takes shape she becomes jealous and feeling that he should be more concerned with the living than the dead.
O’Toole is engaging as ever in the type of role that most suits his talents. Had the film stayed centered on him it would have been a joy to watch, but unfortunately it enters in the generic Spano who looks like he was pulled straight off of the cover of a men’s modeling magazine. I presume this was because the studio felt a movie centered on a man over 50 wouldn’t attract the all-important 16-30 year-old demographic, but despite being an obvious chick-magnet he adds little and there was period in the middle where he isn’t seen for a long time to the point where I forgot about him and didn’t miss him at all.
Hemingway adds quirky energy as the free-spirit and her kooky romance with O’Toole adds genuine spark, but the film regresses by spending too more time focusing on Spano’s relationship with fellow coed Barbara (Virginia Madsen). This romance is very formulaic and makes the film seem like two movies in one while sucking all of its offbeat potential right out. If anything Spano should’ve fallen for his robot that is by far funniest thing in the movie.
David Ogden Stiers makes for a good antagonist and John Dehner, in his last theatrical film appearance, is solid as O’Toole’s loyal colleague, but the film’s biggest problem is when it shift gears and destroys the whole cloning angle completely. It then centers on a mysterious illness that befalls the Barbara character that like in Love Story never gets explained and comes out of nowhere. She goes into an immediate coma and is put on life support where her parents (Rance Howard, Ellen Geer) agrees much too quickly and without bothering to even get a second opinion to take her off of it and allow her to die. This then forces Spano to talk to her endlessly until just as the she is about to be disconnected she ‘miraculously’ comes back to life, which is too implausible, too contrived and too cute for even the most hopeless of romantics and helps ruin the engaging performances of its two lead stars, which is the only good thing about it.
End of Spoiler Alert!
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: September 20, 1985
Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes
Director: Ivan Passer
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video