Boasting two talented stars like Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd, I Could Never Be Your Woman – directed by the equally talented but inconsistent Amy Heckerling – should have been a romantic delight. Instead, it’s an embarrassment.
There are a few signs that make this clear before you even get in the theatre: Firstly, the film is only being released theatrically in a number of countries outside the US – there it was released directly to DVD.
Secondly, the troubled film was actually made three years ago and, plagued by production and financial problems, has sat on the shelf gathering dust until now.
Pfeiffer stars as Rosie, a divorced single mother who makes a living as a successful TV producer bedevilled by a sexist boss. She starts casting for a new role in her teen television soap to boost its flagging ratings and meets a young actor Adam (Paul Rudd). They soon start an unlikely romance despite their age difference.
There are subplots involving Rosie’s feminist-savvy in-love-for-the-first-time daughter (Saoirse Ronan), the cast of the television show and an evil assistant that sets out to ruin Rosie’s relationship with Adam.
Then, serving no particular purpose, there’s also Mother Nature (Tracy Ullman in a toga) who pops in out of the story to have conversions with Rosie about the nature of relationships between the sexes.
The not-so-subtle subtext aims to comment on our culture’s obsession with aging, but it’s all contrived and tedious.
Heckerling (Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) clearly sought to break new ground by making a movie that is along the lines of a typical Hollywood romantic comedy, while incorporating social satire and non-mainstream techniques.
Sadly, it all goes terribly awry. I Could Never Be Your Woman is neither fish nor fowl. It’s not particularly romantic, the dated one-liners often fall flat and the social commentary seems trite and lacks any insight. It has a few enjoyable moments, but the whole is uneven and awkward.
Much of this must be laid at the feet of Heckerling, who also wrote the film. Her stylistic decisions are incompatible – as though she were directing two or three films in one – and she clearly was unable to give her cast a steady hand. The film’s tone is astonishingly uneven.
Michelle Pfeiffer who was in her late forties at the time, but very successfully plays 39, is all over the place; at times sparkling while at others being insincere and self-conscious in her performance.
The gorgeous Paul Rudd is charming but his representation of Adam is often ridiculously broad. And Heckerling’s direction of Ullman as Mother Nature somehow manages to transform this comic genius into a shockingly unfunny performer.
The character doesn’t belong in this movie. In fact all three characters seem as if they each escaped from a different film and somehow found their way into this stinker. I was red faced as I sat in the cinema watching the talent on and off-screen embarrassing itself
Give I Could Never Be Your Woman a wide berth. If you must, wait for the local DVD rental release.