The spectre of the Italian film classic DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE haunts this bloodless farce. Clumsy and contrived, SHOOTING ELIZABETH suffers from plodding direction and star Jeff Goldblum's inability to turn a sow's ear screenplay into a silken black comedy.
Shrinking under the scrutiny of his increasingly shrewish wife Elizabeth (Mimi Rogers), Harold Pigeon (Jeff Goldblum) hatches a fool-proof scheme to rid himself of his ball-and-chain. Even when threatened at gunpoint, Elizabeth is so controlling, she refuses to surrender her jewelry to a burglar.
Or are viewers only privy to her husband's jaundiced viewpoint? Promising Elizabeth a second honeymoon as a last resort to save their marriage, Harold lays plans for her demise. Point by point, the plot unravels. For example, Harold booked their old honeymoon suite because he needed a room that
overlooked the ocean--now its balcony juts over a garden. Worse yet, Elizabeth undermines her mate's murderous intent by behaving like the loving woman he married many years ago.
Driven to exasperation by her husband's erratic behavior, Elizabeth vanishes without a word. However, Harold doesn't have long to enjoy his unexpected crime-free freedom because the police suspect him of actually murdering his wife. One by one, details of his homicidal bumbling return to haunt
him--a bullet shot through a pillow, a note he'd forced Elizabeth to write and testimony from the punks who sold him a gun. Arrested at work and condemned by public opinion, Harold must desperately seek Elizabeth in order to clear his name. Abetted by a priestly mountain guide, he locates his
wife, tells her the truth and reclaims her love. Although their marriage had been rocked by a miscarriage, the newly reunited couple decide to try marriage and parenthood again.
Remarkably witty in THE TALL GUY, Goldblum doesn't seem naturally funny when saddled with poor material. Not only does the screenplay's underlying nastiness vitiate the comedy, but the cast members' lack of conviction also dilutes the promised hilarity.
If you portray Rogers's character as a shrike in order to kick the murder plot into high gear, you can't shift gears and suggest some of her abrasiveness may be in the eye of the beholder. Moreover, she's not bitchy in a high comedic way, therefore the opportunity for a sophisticated commentary on
the male-female connubial battleground is forsaken. And if Elizabeth is really a misunderstood sweetheart, then Harold becomes even more unlikable for trying to dispose of her.
No one, from screenwriter to director to cast members, demonstrates the slightest skill at making black comedy palatable. One ends up mired in questions about the two leads' motives. Was Elizabeth making Harold squirm by deliberately disappearing? Isn't Harold more interested in finding Elizabeth
to save his own skin than he is in rekindling their marriage? When this many motivational clouds are on the comedy horizon, a film is in trouble.
If Elizabeth forgives her hubby for his comical flirtation with killing her, she is remarkably understanding, much more tolerant than audiences are likely to be toward this shot-to-pieces, sour comedy. (Profanity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: The spectre of the Italian film classic DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE haunts this bloodless farce. Clumsy and contrived, SHOOTING ELIZABETH suffers from plodding direction and star Jeff Goldblum's inability to turn a sow's ear screenplay into a silken black comed… (more)