|THREE TO TANGO (1999)|
John C. McGinley
|"I haven't done anything or anyone to deserve this."|
|Time: 98 mins.|
Genre: Romantic Comedy
I have to say that when I saw the trailer for this film, I thought it looked cute, but was nothing special. I like the three leads and was intrigued, but never did make it to the theater. Since I have a billion HBO channels, I was finally able to check out this little romantic comedy and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. That's not to say that THREE TO TANGO will change your life or that it's a film you have to rush out and see, it's just better than I expected it to be. Matthew Perry and Neve Campbell have great chemistry together and are pretty funny as well. Dylan McDermott is my idea of eye candy, so I couldn't really be disappointed there. The filmmakers keep the story short and sweet, which helps a great deal when you have a simple tale like this.
Basically, Matthew Perry plays Oscar Novak, an up-and-coming architect, who with his partner Peter (Platt) are just waiting for their big break. Their only hope to stay in business is to win a major renovation commission that will put their company name in the press and money in the bank. All they have to do is impress the millionaire businessman who holds the purse strings. Charles Newman (McDermott) is very intrigued by their work and especially likes Oscar. In fact, he likes him so much he entrusts Oscar with protecting his most prized possession his mistress Amy (Campbell). Of course, the only reason he does this is because he thinks Oscar is gay and therefore of no threat to his relationship. Peter warns Oscar that nothing good will come of this assignment and that he's going to ruin their careers, but Charles dangles the contract so he keeps his mouth shut.
It goes without saying that Oscar immediately falls for Amy, an up-and-coming artist, who believes she has a future with Charles. By coming to her rescue, Oscar and Amy become immediate best friends and start hanging out together, which doesn't bother Charles because he thinks Oscar is keeping her away from other men. Oscar has no idea Charles and Amy think he's gay and is outraged and flabbergasted when he hears this "truth". He goes to complain to Peter, who really is gay, who just laughs at Oscar's dilemma, warning him to stay in the closest for both their sakes. They are so close to winning the commission and it's not worth their careers for him to make a play for Amy. Since she thinks he's gay, she probably doesn't feel the same way for Oscar anyway. He knows they have something special, but agrees to continue the charade.
It's not long before he decides he can't live with the lie any longer and comes out of the closet in a very funny and public way. Of course, it appears to cost him both the commission Charles is horrified that he's been played a fool and Amy's affection, when she learns he was lying to her all along. Being the movie that it is, there's no doubt that love will ultimately prevail. The ending is sweet and poignant, leaving no doubt in the viewer's mind who Amy really belonged with. Campbell and Perry are so cute together it's almost nauseating, but they are also very good with the physical comedy which helps bring their love back down to earth. Their "first date" is so funny and traumatic it would cause two people to either bond forever or never speak to each other again. Obviously, in this world, they find their soul mate.
There's nothing drastically new in THREE TO TANGO, but for some reason the story just works on all levels. It's easy to see why Amy would be attracted to someone like Charles, but also clear why it's no real loss for her to leave him. It's great that Perry can poke fun at his image by playing someone everyone thinks is gay. One would think that Oscar would be a lot like his "FRIENDS" character Chandler, but surprisingly they are quite different, even if they share that "quality" that makes people think they're homosexual. The film walks a very fine line with all the gay business, but manages to be funny without being offensive. At least to me anyway. THREE TO TANGO could have been an overdone, trite romantic comedy, but instead it is clever, funny and fun to watch. It won't change your life, but it's better than most of the recent forays into this genre and certainly way better than most Matthew Perry films.