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Return to Me
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"Return to Me" is the kind of feel-good movie that gives feel-good movies a bad name. No doubt you've heard that it's about a heart that makes its way from the body of Joely Richardson, the gorgeous dead wife of David Duchovny, into the bosom of Minnie Driver, desperate heart patient; and how, in spite of every obstacle writer/director Bonnie Hunt can find to throw in their way, David and Minnie also find eternal love.
He is Bob Rueland, major Chicago architect/builder. His wife Elizabeth is Director of the Ape House at Lincoln Park Zoo, who devotes her life to a) teaching a gorilla to sign; and b) raising money to build the apes a better zoo environment. Killed in an automobile accident, her heart is donated to, yes, it's pale blue Grace Briggs (Driver), who on the evidence of this film has been too sick all her life ever to have gone anywhere outside her home above her grandfather Carroll O'Connor's Irish-Italian restaurant called O'Reilly's, except for trips to the hospital to keep her alive.
Okay, let's say we buy that. Should we also buy O'Connor's overly hearty Irish brogue, which has a tendency to wander at moments of stress? Should we buy Duchovny's dog, which for a year after his wife's death is still moping at the front door, waiting for her to come home? And should we buy Driver's inability to tell Duchovny that, first, she is a heart recipient, and second, that the heart she got was -- oh, never mind. What does hurt is that these are all, with the possible exception of O'Connor, fine actors. Duchovny, in particular, shows that seven years as the paranoid Fox Mulder in 'The X-Files' haven't drained him of all acting ability. He is attractive, thoughtful, and believably destroyed emotionally by his wife's death. Hunt has saddled him with a best friend (David Alan Grier) who is supposed to lighten things up but has been given some of the very worst lines in years.
O'Connor and his poker friends, including Robert Loggia as his Italian restaurant partner -- who thank God doesn't even try for an Italian accent here -- are busy trying to make a shiddoch for poor Minnie, while her best friend Megan (played by Hunt herself) is supposedly the voice of calm and reason. But Hunt the writer has saddled Hunt the character with a superfluous husband (Jim Belushi, who even gets to do his late brother's famous back flip at the bowling alley) and children who add nothing to the film.
Do Minnie and David get together? Do they have to get themselves to Italy first? Yes and yes. Do you really want to see this film? That's up to you. <! new pasted review ends on line above>