For Better or Worse (1995) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language, adult humor and mild violence
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Jason Alexander, James Woods, Lolita Davidovich, Joe Mantegna, Jay Mohr, Robert Costanzo, Bea Arthur
Director: Jason Alexander
Screenplay: Jeff Nathanson
Review published March 22, 2004
Not exactly the directorial debut that Seinfeld favorite Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) would have hoped for, For Better or Worse is little more than a ninety-minute collection of strained situations and unfunny moments. The problems start early, as it is just a bad idea for a romantic comedy to begin with, and it certainly doesn't help that Jeff Nathanson (Rush Hour 2, Speed 2: Cruise Control) can't inject anything fresh into it. Attempts are made, but each only succeeds in making this an annoying experience, despite some lively performances and a few moments of interest.
Alexander plays Michael Makeshift, a nebbish loser who can't seem to do anything right. His girlfriend left him, he can't pay his rent, and to top it off, Reggie (Woods, John Q), the brother he could never live up to, has come around to visit. It seems that he has rolled into town with a scheme to knock off a credit union, and he leaves his would-be bride Valerie (Davidovich, Dark Blue) off at Michael's in the interim, but she unwittingly possesses the codes they need to crack the vault. Trouble ensues.
You can pretty much guess where things go from here, can't you? For Better or Worse isn't devoid of comedy, as it did occasionally make me chuckle, but not nearly enough as it made me annoyed. The film becomes progressively loud and over-the-top as it progresses, and the more amplified the noise, the more intolerable it becomes. Alexander is a consummate sidekick, but really isn't quite cut out for a romantic lead, and the budding romance with Davidovich seems a mismatch from the outset. Perhaps the worst of the film's flaws comes from the acapella jazz score, which echoes the onscreen action like a Greek chorus -- intrusive to the point where you might have a better experience with the sound completely off.
For Better or Worse is a rhetorical proposition, as all Alexander delivers is worse and worse. Unless you find him completely irresistible, there's not much going for this inept misfire.
©2004 Vince Leo