Matthew Lickona 1:15 p.m., May 22
The War of the Roses
An anti-Anniversary Card from Danny DeVito, just as his Throw Momma from the Train was an anti-Mother's Day Card. The title gleefully foretells the scale of the hostilities. The heart, however, sinks a little at or near the outset, when we are sent via flashback to Square One: that rainy day in Nantucket when the couple first met (she with her shirt plastered to her bra-less chest, he with the gallant offer of his mackintosh); their first time in the sack; their humble first apartment; their first very own house. All of this -- except maybe the house, which will become the major bone of contention and battle zone -- is in the fidget-making territory of Taking Nothing For Granted. The heart, as a matter of fact, must still remain slightly submerged even after, halfway through, the conjugal warfare erupts in earnest. The waging of this is a little too near Laurel-and-Hardy tit-for-tat, and there's not enough comic ammunition to sustain it for much longer than one of that team's two-reelers. Yet, the aforementioned heart, bobbing just beneath the surface, never goes all the way to the bottom. That's because DeVito, as he showed in Throw Momma, is a playful and hard-working director, with a fondness for the odd angle and the indirect approach, like a kitten looking for a way into the bird cage. This generates a lighter kind of fun than what was plainly intended. But with DeVito tirelessly on the prowl, things are never as tedious as they had every reason to be. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner. 1989.
— Duncan Shepherd
- Rated R