Miami Rhapsody (1995) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexuality and language
Running Time: 105 min.

Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Antonio Banderas, Mia Farrow, Gil Bellows, Paul Mazursky, Carla Gugino, Kevin Pollak, Barbara Garrick, Naomi Campbell
David Frankel
Screenplay: David Frankel



It's fairly clear early on that writer-director David Frankel is attempting to recreate the look and feel of a Woody Allen film, starting right off with the style of the opening titles with the old-fashioned swing jazz soundtrack.  Even longtime Allen companion, Mia Farrow, has a large supporting role, of course, done in her typically whimsical fashion.  While stylistically, it's all very imitative, underneath it all, it's not as artistically significant as most of Woody's films, playing the plot in a rather straightforward fashion.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it does manage to keep you entertained while it's on, but the lack of ingenuity definitely makes Miami Rhapsody fall short of being anything close to remarkable.

Sarah Jessica Parker is the main player in this ensemble cast, playing Gwen, who has accepted a proposal of marriage to her boyfriend, Matt.  However, just as soon as she ponders the wonderful life she is about to have with her love, it seems the marriages of her parents and siblings begin to fall apart.  The more events pass, the more she begins to doubt whether marriage is really the right thing to do.

There's definitely quite a bit to like in this slight endeavor, made much better by the appealing cast.  There are a few key scenes where Sarah Jessica Parker impresses, especially in a few of the rare serious moments that occur between the would-be husband and wife that feel very real.  Although much of the tone is very light, the situations are serious, mostly dealing with matters of infidelity and the ups and downs of relationships, particularly the downs.  However, Frankel does a fine job never letting the movie sink into melodramatic schmaltz, always maintaining an upbeat tempo even when the tendency would have called for much more serious drama.

It's a double-edged sword, as the attitudes sometimes seem too cavalier, particularly among a tight-knit family who have never really experienced the impact of adultery in their lives before.  To some respect, even the light mood of the direction can't keep the distasteful breaches of trust among soulmates from becoming disheartening, with an underlying message that cheating is part of any relationship, and the ability to overlook it is what makes for a long-lasting marriage.  This undercuts one of the best reasons to watch Miami Rhapsody, because as a "date flick," it's far too dubious a story to fully enjoy.

Miami Rhapsody ends up a worthwhile viewing for fans of the stars, particularly Sarah Jessica Parker, and also for those who enjoy droll comedies in the aforementioned Woody Allen vein.  While the much more serious themes don't exactly jibe with the mirthful atmosphere, there are enough decent moments strung together to make this a good choice for couples who have already been though many ups and downs of their own. 

2003 Vince Leo