Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1991. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by J.J. Abrams. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Tony Walton. Costume Design by Ann Roth. Film Editing by Sam O’Steen.
Recreating the charm of Frank Capra classics is attempted in this enjoyable heartwarmer by Mike Nichols. He even casts it perfectly by putting Harrison Ford, the modern-day Gary Cooper, in the Mr. Deeds/John Doe-esque seat. He plays a high-powered, cold-blooded lawyer whose life is completely changed when he is shot by a robber in a convenience store and loses his memory. Following his recovery in a rehabilitation clinic, Ford goes home to his wife (Annette Bening) and their pre-teen daughter and finds himself unable to go back to his old career, fully disapproving of the man he used to be (it’s like Total Recall without the red skies). The film is feel-good schmaltz that goes for sitcom-level situations every time it wants to make a point, but what makes it work as well as it does is Nichols’ commitment to the situation: he knows it’s Hollywood and he doesn’t try to make it anything else. As such the film is affecting because Ford’s sincerity is irresistible, while Bening’s gorgeous intelligence is impossible to ignore. The film was written by a then 24 year-old J.J. Abrams (who has a cameo).