Time: 107 mins.
Nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
SYNOPSIS: Jerry Webster (Hudson) and Carol Templeton (Day) are rival Madison Avenue advertising executives who each dislike the other's methods. After he steals a client out from under her cute little nose, revenge prompts her to infiltrate his secret "VIP" campaign in order to persuade the mystery product's scientist to switch to her firm. Trouble is, the product is phony and the "scientist" is Jerry, who uses all his intelligence and charm to steal her ideas and her heart.
BOTTOM LINE: With the lead trios first big screen foray – PILLOW TALK – such a surprise success, it's no wonder the powers that be decided to quickly reteam them. Day, Hudson and Randall play very well together, each bringing something unique to the screen that complements the others perfectly. Each seems to be playing to type and yet their talent allows them to bring depth to very cookie cutter roles. Characters, in fact, that are practically identical to the ones they play in PILLOW TALK, just with different names and jobs. Perhaps that's why I didn't enjoy this film as much – since the plot and emotional arc are so similar – though it's still quite a bit of fun thanks to the clever dialogue and performances.
This time around, Day and Hudson play competing ad executives out to ruin the other's career. She is the prim, above-board, ambitious single woman who loathes his sleazy, underhanded, womanizing ways, which are undercutting her talent and client roster. He wants to make her pay for getting him in trouble with the advertising council and run her out of town for good. His boss, played by Randall, sets the plot in motion when he decides to actually try running his company and releases an ad campaign for a fake product Hudson created to bribe a female "friend" into not speaking out against him. The public clamor for "VIP" forces them to come up with a real product before Day exposes them for fraud. What they do create is pretty original and delivers some of the film's best laughs, so I won't ruin the surprise.
Day and Hudson, of course, have never met face to face, which leaves her vulnerable to the most devious trick in the romantic comedy playbook – pretending to be somebody else to make your enemy fall in love with you. This always backfires on the trickster, in this case Hudson, because they get to see the sweet and sexy side of their rival, while the rival continues to hate their real persona and falls in love with someone who doesn't exist. So, when their true identity is revealed – and it always is – they come out looking like an even bigger a-hole and breaking both characters' hearts. Which is usually where the odd man out comes in, devising a plan to get the couple back together and living happily ever after. What makes this film fun for the ladies is that Day gets to not only "makeover" the earnest, inexperienced scientist, but teach him the ways of love – a role no woman can resist.
No one goes from bitter harpy to sultry sweetheart more convincingly than Day. She just needs the "right" man to warm her heart...and then look out. Hudson is just charming and irresistable no matter what he's doing. His heart doesn't seem fully in it this go-round, but he's good enough. It's not very believable that a man as gorgeous as he is would be a bedroom novice (a tough New Yorker like Carol should know better), but it doesn't have to be to the audience since we know he's just pretending. Day and Hudson have such great chemistry, they make this obvious tripe work, but it's Randall's performance that saves this from being just another mediocre rom com. He is absolutely hilarious, showing not only his innate ability to make any line funny, but a true flair for physical comedy. It's not a surprise he was nominated for a Golden Globe for this part. His infectious energy fills the gaps when Day and Hudson aren't onscreen together, which is a bit too often.
While the set design and costumes are more than a bit dated, they also give the film a unique look and flair that's era-accurate, but also quirky and fun. I don't know to many women who could pull off some of Day's outfits without looking completely ridiculous, but somehow she makes them appear classy and normal. All in all, this is a well-produced flick that aptly captures the dark side of the ad world with humor and heart.