Writer-producer-director Dale Launer's breezy comedy LOVE POTION NO. 9 is the perfect date movie. It's light and fast-paced, with several funny moments and a predictably happy ending. Don't look for anything beyond that.
Paul Matthews (Tate Donovan) and Diane Farrow (Sandra Bullock) are two nerdy twentysomethings who have so much in common it almost hurts. They're both boring psychobiologists, specializing in the behavior patterns of primates. They also share adjoining apartments, listen to the same music, read
the same books and have not been on a real date in years. Diane is resigned to sporadic middle-of-the-night visits from Gary Logan (Dale Midkiff), a user who can't find anybody else in the bars. Paul has such low self-esteem that he'll only talk to women when his friends give him money as a dare.
When they set him up with a hooker, Marisa (Mary Mara), Paul spends two hours chatting. Desperate, Paul visits an enigmatic fortune teller, Madame Ruth (Anne Bancroft), who, after reading his palm and identifying his lack of female companionship, gives him some love potion number eight. It is
guaranteed to make him irresistible to women.
Initially reluctant to try it, he throws the formula in the garbage. After seeing the effects of the potion on his cat and then on a chimpanzee at the lab, however, Paul and Diane agree to test the stuff on themselves. (The magic ingredient only works for four hours at a time, so they must
constantly ingest more.) The pair agree not to see each other for three weeks, and then to report back and compare notes. Diane gets immediate results and is wooed, first by a dashing European car designer, Enrico Pazzoli (Adrian Paul), and then by Prince Geoffrey of England (Dylan Baker).
Overnight, she is transformed from a frumpy wallflower to a siren surrounded by men--even the sleazy Gary begins showing her surprising respect. Paul, meanwhile, gets his revenge on a blonde who had previously made a fool of him, and then seduces an entire sorority house for good measure.
When the two get together to compare notes, they are both surprised to see the change in one another. They both are sporting cool haircuts, nice clothing and newfound confidence. They go out on a date of their own and get along so fabulously that, without the aid of the aphrodisiac, they end up in
bed after a terrific night together.
Paul decides to propose marriage to Diane and shows up with a diamond ring and honeymoon tickets. Diane, though, has run off with Gary, who found out about the love potion and bought the remainder from Madame Ruth. After revisiting the fortune teller, Paul is given love potion number nine which,
if swallowed, will identify true love. After various misadventures, Paul shows up just as Diane and Gary are about to be married. She sips the new potion and realizes that Paul is the real love of her life.
LOVE POTION NO. 9 achieves occasional moments of hipness or subtlety, but these are far outweighed by a preponderence of easy, tasteless gags. The material is helped by a charming cast. As the geeky monkey-doctor, Donovan (CLEAN AND SOBER, MEMPHIS BELLE) is a quirky presence, particularly
hilarious in one extended monologue late in the film. Bullock makes a winning Cinderella figure and Mara (MR. SATURDAY NIGHT) gives an effectively over-the-top performance as the hooker.
LOVE POTION NO. 9 marks a disappointing directorial debut for Launer, whose screenplays include RUTHLESS PEOPLE, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS and MY COUSIN VINNY. (Profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Writer-producer-director Dale Launer's breezy comedy LOVE POTION NO. 9 is the perfect date movie. It's light and fast-paced, with several funny moments and a predictably happy ending. Don't look for anything beyond that. Paul Matthews (Tate Donovan) and D… (more)