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Mad Dog Movie Masters takes on The Marrying Man

THE MARRYING MAN

Directed by Jerry Rees.

Starring Kim Basinger

and Alec Baldwin.

Now playing at the Loews Cheri.

By ROY CANTU

and BRIAN ROSE

drop"B

is this supposed to be a mode 7 "B"?-adl

RIAN, WHAT DO YOU GET when you take a washed-up blonde and a Grecian-Formula playboy?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Vest?"

No. . . . we're talking about Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin in The Marrying Man. Alec Baldwin plays a slick, attractive millionaire destined to marry the perfect woman. Kim Basinger lights up the screen with blazing red lipstick and moves out of Dirty Dancing. Together they form a sizzling couple, hot and heavy on the screen -- at least when they're together. When they're not, it's quite a different story.

Basinger plays Vicki Anderson (no relation to Vicki Vale), the sometime-mistress, sometime-wife of wealthy toothpaste magnate Charley Pearl (Alec Baldwin). She graces the screen with what Brian describes as "stunning" musical talents. In fact, much of the movie is occupied with various club scenes featuring Basinger's melodic harmonies. For those who didn't realize that this star of Batman and the critically-acclaimed film My Stepmother is an Alien could sing, you are in for a surprise. Both the movie and the soundtrack feature at least seven songs sung by Basinger. Her singing was fine for the first five songs. But as the number of her songs increased by orders of magnitude, I began to have painful flashbacks of Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music. Brian disagreed.

Now for the plot: The lives of Vicki and Charley cross paths when plans for a rowdy bachelor party weekend detour into a Las Vegas club. Charley, who plans to

marry Adele Horner (Elisabeth Shue) in six days, comes along to appease the guys and plans to leave early out of lovesickness for his fianc'ee. Persuaded to have just one last drink before turning back, Charley looks up from his table and fixes his gaze upon gorgeous club singer Vicki Anderson performing a song whose title is laced with foreshadowing -- "Let's Do It." Later, the two engage in a floor exercise that would put Mary Lou Retton to shame.

But what about Adele? An attractive brunette who is painfully loyal to Charley, she represents the typical spoiled daddy's little girl. While reading the next day's paper, she is shocked to see her $30-million future hubby walking down the aisle with another woman -- a dive-club bimbo singer, at that! As it turns out, Charley has married Vicki in Vegas. Enough said. While Adele bawls in her pink paisley room, her father takes out a contract on Charley's life -- well, maybe not a contract, but he does get ticked off. By the way, her father, Lew Horner (Robert Loggia), is not just "Mr. Joe Average concerned father;" he's a powerful, mansion-owning, movie-making, cigar-smoking millionaire, and he means business.

Vicki walks out on Charley, and Adele leaves for Europe, refusing to speak to him for three months. Charley is left with the only thing a man can really depend on, his four goofball friends. Here we have a motley crew -- a singer, a songwriter, a baseball coach, and a comedian. They are all trying to make something of themselves and become somebody, just like Charley. Sammy (Fisher Stevens) is a scrawny songwriter, trying to get the attention of the big studios with his music. Tony (Peter Dobson), an aspiring actor and singer, is looking for the big break in his career. George (Steve Hytner) is a baseball coach in the minor leagues, struggling with last place and high hopes of success. Phil (Paul Reiser) delivers Neil Simon's incessant one-liners with style. Together the four keep this movie from dragging on for 9 and a half weeks, although Dobson and Hytner play pretty disposable characters.

Under all the comedy, romance, and plot twists, The Marrying Man provides insight into the mysterious world of men, women, marriage and relationships in general. Wow. Charley is clearly "hot" for Vicki, and he never spends more than six and a half minutes (Roy timed it) with her without being drawn into a passionate love-making session. Granted, Charley loves Adele, but she just doesn't have the fire that Vicki does. As the movie progresses, we see that being both "hot" for a girl and wanting to marry her is a contradiction in terms. Case in point -- after Charley marries Vicki, the "heat" quickly fades and they soon divorce. The cycle repeats. The ultimate tragedy of this is that Charley enjoys this endless, pointless, pathetic cycle more than he would a steady relationship with Adele Horner.

By the way, we have virtually ignored in this "Mad Dog" review the star of The Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin. Neither Brian nor I was overly impressed by his performance. We felt that his pretty face played second string to both Basinger and Paul Reiser.

Overall, we enjoyed most of the movie and even admitted that we might have paid money to see it, although we got in free and made off with a complimentary poster and Top-40 soundtrack. In our opinion, Basinger's singing and body language would provoke response even in the most brain-dead of individuals. Baldwin did an admirable job for the cotton-candy role he was given. This movie barely tips the patented Mad Dog Movie Scale, with 21/2 out of 4 Mad Dogs.