Some popular actors are cast against type in MR. WONDERFUL, a predictable but inoffensive story of a young man who tries to find a new husband for his ex-wife in order to relieve himself of alimony payments.
Matt Dillon and Annabella Sciorra play Gus and Lenora, former childhood sweethearts whose marriage ended when she decided to distance herself from their working-class Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. In her pursuit of greater intellectual stimulation, Lenora has taken a job in a botanic garden,
enrolled in college, and begun an affair with a married professor, Tom (William Hurt). Gus, meanwhile, is involved with Rita (Mary-Louise Parker) but unable to fully commit to their relationship because of his bad experience with marriage the first time around.
Gus and some buddies who work with him at the electric company want to buy and renovate an abandoned bowling alley, but Gus can't afford his share of the investment because of his alimony expenses. After a friend suggests Gus find Lenora a new husband, Gus starts prospecting for eligible
bachelors wherever he goes. The first few dates he arranges for Lenora are disasters, including one man who tries to get physical with her immediately. She gets rid of him, then calls Gus to complain. They end up spending a pleasant evening together that is interrupted by the arrival of Tom. Gus
and Tom exchange insults, and Gus leaves.
Gus finally agrees to live with Rita, but she backs out on the day of their move because she believes he is still hung up on his ex-wife. Lenora, however, has hit it off with one of her blind dates, a pharmacist named Dominic (Vincent D'Onofrio) who works in the hospital where Rita is a nurse.
Dominic asks Lenora to marry him, and she mulls the proposal.
Gus eventually realizes he is in love with Lenora. Using his electrical expertise, he creates an enchanted light display in the courtyard of her home and waits there for her. When she shows up, he confesses his love and demonstrates it by reciting the names of all her plants. She cannot respond
because she is returning from a date with Dominic, who arrives after parking his car. Lenora later tracks down Gus as he rides the subway home and admits he is her Mr. Wonderful. They remarry, and Gus and his friends are able to open their bowling alley.
MR. WONDERFUL is a pleasant movie for the incurably romantic from the British director of TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY; others will find it tolerable at best. The film has no major faults outside of a few lapses in realism, but it is rather bland considering its attractive cast.
Interestingly, all four stars are cast against type. Dillon breaks from his troubled characters of films such as DRUGSTORE COWBOY and RUMBLE FISH to portray a cheerful, well-balanced boy next door. Likewise, Hurt plays just a regular guy instead of the psychologically tormented types he usually
does (KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, THE BIG CHILL). Sciorra, angelic and demure in her short-haired roles in THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE and JUNGLE FEVER, has a rough edge along with a big curly hairdo here. And Parker, who was a flop romantically in LONGTIME COMPANION and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES,
does a couple of sexy scenes with Dillon.
MR. WONDERFUL is weakened by plot inconsistencies: Gus starts looking for a mate for Lenora because he cannot afford his alimony payments, yet neither one of them seems financially strained. Gus chooses an apartment with Rita that costs more than they planned to spend, while Lenora has a
computer in her home and a large courtyard outside her apartment. Another unlikely scenario occurs when Gus and Pope are injured on the job after Gus and Rita have broken up. With all the hospitals and nurses in New York City, they conveniently are taken to the hospital where Rita works and is on
duty. (Sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Some popular actors are cast against type in MR. WONDERFUL, a predictable but inoffensive story of a young man who tries to find a new husband for his ex-wife in order to relieve himself of alimony payments. Matt Dillon and Annabella Sciorra play Gus an… (more)