I Love Trouble (1994) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for some language and sexuality
Running Time: 123 min.
Cast: Nick Nolte, Julia Roberts, Saul Rubinek, James Rebhorn, Robert Loggia, Kelly Rutherford
Director: Charles Shyer
Screenplay: Charles Shyer, Nancy Myers
Review published June 9, 2004
Nick Nolte (Hulk, 48 Hrs.) stars as Peter Brackett, Chicago's most popular reporter and eligible bachelor. Brackett has been coasting for years off of his own image and reputation, regurgitating his older material and trying to pass it off as new -- he's lost his edge. He's taken to writing best-selling novels instead, utilizing his position only to further his own popularity with the public, and the ladies in particular. Enter Sabrina Peterson (Roberts, Notting Hill), the hotshot new reporter for the city's rival newspaper. As soon as the two meet on the scene of a train accident, they have a chemistry, but one which turns a bit sour when Sabrina out-scoops him on the story. From then on, Brackett becomes infused with a feeling of healthy competition to stay ahead of Sabrina, and eventually, the two being to gather vital information that the other does not, forcing an uneasy alliance that is fraught with tension, sexual and otherwise.
I Love Trouble is an earnest attempt at an old-fashioned comedy, sparking up a romance amid a battle-of-the-sexes scenario, very similar to the screwball comedies you'd find in the 30s and 40s. The film is at its best when it is in the frothy romance mode, and had it stayed there for most of the running time, this might have been a modestly successful venture. Unfortunately, the team of Shyer and Myers (Baby Boom, Father of the Bride) fall into the trap of hitting hard with the thriller plot elements, the contents of which are never very compelling, and serious lulls occur when the two leads aren't exchanging witty banter. It doesn't help that the film clocks in at over two hours, which is easily a half hour longer than most films of this type run for, and tedium does eventually creep in and dominate for the last half hour.
Another problem comes from the casting, and specifically in Nick Nolte as the romantic lead. Nolte is a fine actor in almost every regard, with the range to play a variety of roles that he is quite strong in. Alas, Cary Grant he is not. Good looking he may be, but not nearly the type of guy that has women stopping in the middle of conversations saying, "Whoa daddy!" when he enters the room, which is precisely what they do here. He does ratchet up the charm in the role as you've never seen him do before, but it feels unnatural, and the nerdy glasses and trench coat look about as foreign on him as any costume might. Little chemistry is shared between Nolte and Roberts, and you never really feel they have much attraction for one another, except as contrived in the predictable script. Roberts does hold up her end a little better, but this definitely isn't considered one of her better roles, never really playing to her strengths at any point.
In many ways, I Love Trouble reminded me of another feeble romantic comedy, Legal Eagles, starring Robert Redford opposite Debra Winger. Two very good actors who never quite mesh well, stuck in a overlong, dark and mechanical plot that rears its ugly head whenever things seem to be hitting their stride. Unless you really like either of the two leads, or are just a sucker for light romances, no matter how much noise you have to sit through to enjoy, I Love Trouble proves to be more trouble than its worth.
©2004 Vince Leo