Face the Music (1993) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language and brief nudity
Running time: 93 min
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Patrick Dempsey, Lysette Anthony, Danny Green, Dominic Jephcott, Rebecca Potok,
Director: Carol Wiseman
Screenplay: Randee Russell
Review published May 23, 2008
Charlie (Dempsey, With Honors) and Lisa Hunter (Ringwald, The Breakfast Club) are a successful duo of hit makers in the music industry whose partnership has drawn to a close now that they are going through a divorce. Charlie's now engaged a very well-to-do woman, Julie (Anthony, Krull), but they can't quite get married until the paperwork has gone through. Meanwhile, a big-shot movie producer wants the duo to get back together to write a hit song as the perfect capper to his movie's soundtrack, and he won't take no for an answer. The catch is that they only have four days to do it. They could use the cash, so they consent, but tensions continue between the two songwriters, further compounded by the meddling new girlfriend and the ill-mannered musical artist they are writing the song for.
By this point in their careers, it's clear that Ringwald and Dempsey's better days were behind them, though Dempsey would make a comeback thanks to "Grey's Anatomy", over a decade later. Neither had even been in a theatrical release in over two years, and if this flick is indicative of their level of interest, it's probably for the best that they be used sparingly. Dempsey is actually not too bad in this, though it doesn't help that his character is quite the jackass, and one that can't seem to stay loyal to one woman no less.
Ringwald is another matter, no doubt cast due to past performance, but this cute kid actor has lost much of her cinematic appeal in adulthood. What were once endearing character traits as a youth are now not enough to carry in an adult role, especially one that asks her to be alluring and to sing, neither of which she can do particularly well. Unflattering outfits and awkwardness in emoting only exacerbate the lack of appeal.
That's not to lay any blame on the actors, as they do the best they can with what they're given, which isn't much at all. The basic formula employed in Face the Music is to have all of the characters bicker and annoy one another for the duration under the assumption that exasperated outbursts will equate to great comedy. It's not, as that approach can only work in films that have a great deal of originality and fun developments. In this film, it's just noisy and gets progressively noisier. Viewers will also likely end up loathing the characters to such an extent that all possibilities for a happy ending are exhausted, especially given that none of them seem to like one another, much less love.
Neither director Carol Wiseman nor screenwriter Randee Russell would ever work on a theatrically released movie again, and for that, we are blessed. Their idea of what good, award-winning music and lyrics are is probably the biggest laugh, especially as there is virtually no distinction in the film between the quality of the songs the characters consider good and bad. I had never heard of this film until it showed up on freebie television, and if it actually were released into theaters, I wonder who went to see it or if they ever made it to the end credits. Face the Music no doubt made many moviegoers about face.
©2008 Vince Leo