Cross My Heart (1987)

21 May


Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Cross My Heart” is a romantic comedy that tells its story in the portion of one date—one very awkward date, at that. It begins with a man and woman preparing for a date, which is actually their third, and it becomes an experience that challenges them to question whether or not they’re “right” for one another.

Martin Short plays the man. Annette O’Toole plays the woman. They both have something to hide and lie about, and are unsure of whether or not they should reveal it to the other tonight on their third date. Short has been fired from his job, instead of getting a big promotion like he said he would. O’Toole has a daughter whom she hides from Short. (Oh, and she also smokes.) Short is so desperate to impress O’Toole that he asks his friend for his nice car and stylish apartment just to borrow for the night. So he picks her up, she congratulates him on his promotion, he can’t bring the nerve to tell her the truth, she isn’t revealing her secrets either, and the night is awkward as all lies are destined to be revealed before the date is over.

The film takes place in one night, as Short and O’Toole flirt with one another while still unsure of certain things about themselves and each other. It’s a courageous move to make, and the film doesn’t shy away from everyday, “unnecessary” dialogue to exchange, and thankfully for the most part, Short and O’Toole exhibit convincing chemistry to make us like and care for them. Short is sincere and sometimes insecure, but likable, despite his flaws. O’Toole is sexy and appealing in the way she accepts this man while unsure showing of her own flaws as well.

“Cross My Heart” is mainly an experience such as an awkward date, and the main problem with the movie is that it’s too awkward. You know the lies are going to be revealed sooner or later, and while there are enough suitably funny scenes to play off from that concept, it gets annoying soon enough in that you just want them to get on with that inevitable scene of truth already. This could easily have been resolved if they just revealed their truths and just played off on the idea of dealing with them and moving on with a possible relationship. But no—they keep things even more awkward by trying to keep their secrets. I mean, come on—Short and O’Toole obviously like each other very much; let them talk about what they’ve been keeping from one another.

As a result, “Cross My Heart” winds up clumsy and somewhat mishandled, particularly its last half-hour, which is mainly composed of slapstick and misunderstandings and…for some reason, a woman holding a gun while Short and O’Toole visit Short’s friend after—get this—the friend’s car is stolen. When did this turn into Scorsese’s “After Hours?”

“Cross My Heart” starts out fine, but once you know where it’s heading, it gets annoying pretty fast. Short and O’Toole are fine comic actors and they do work well together, but they needed a better script that delivers the payoff we demand and deserve.

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