Overnight Delivery (1998) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language, crude humor and sexual content
Running Time: 88 min.

Cast: Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon, Christine Taylor, Larry Drake
Director: Jason Bloom

Screenplay: Marc Sedaka, Steven Bloom



If I would have known that Jason Bloom was at the helm, the man responsible for one of the worst films I've ever had the misfortune to see, Bio-Dome, I would have stayed far, far away.  Now I can add another Bloom travesty to my list, with Overnight Delivery, which takes two of the more appealing young comic leads you could be fortunate to get and still manages to craft perhaps the worst romantic comedy put to celluloid. 

Paul Rudd (Clueless, 200 Cigarettes) plays Wyatt Trips, a happy-go-lucky guy who finds his relationship with his fiancé Kim (Taylor, Zoolander) shattered when he believes she has been cheating on him.  In his depression, his buddies take him out to a strip joint to take his mind off of things, where meets Ivy (Witherspoon, Legally Blonde), a feisty exotic dancer that ends up trying to help him break off the relationship.  Her plan: send her an insulting break-up letter with a used condom and a picture of him engaged in sex, send it overnight delivery, and make her pay for it...on Valentine's Day.  There's a hitch, as soon after depositing the letter, Wyatt learns that he may have been mistaken about the affair, and not wanting to ruin the relationship with the love of his life, he desperately begins to try to get the letter back from the package carrier who seems to take the importance of the overnight delivery all too seriously. 

The first thing that comes to mind when watching this painfully unfunny comedy is how similar the plot is to a film that would be made a couple of years later, Road Trip.  Both are road trip comedies featuring a package that must be stopped from delivery, lest the longtime girlfriend find the shock of her life, and while on the way, another romantic possibility emerges for the guy.  Not that it makes Overnight Delivery an original movie, since it is easily comparable to other similar films, most notably the road trip comedy, The Sure Thing, which just so happened to be co-written by one of the same screenwriters, Steven Bloom. 

Derivativeness notwithstanding, this is a wholly unlikable comedy, never funny in the slightest, no matter how much gratuitous noise, destruction, and embarrassing situations end up happening.  Rudd, who has shown likeable personality in other similar vehicles, is no John Cusack, downright annoying in his efforts to ham up this anemic material into something funnier than it is, and only proceeds to make it far more intolerable.  Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon, generally a much more effective comedienne, is even less of a fit in her role as a bitchy stripper, playing the angry card poorly, and having no chemistry at all with Rudd.  Their obvious coupling is artificial, forced, and despite the screenwriters efforts at justification, disingenuous.

There isn't a scene that starts that you don't know the end of, no joke you can't guess the punchline to.  Overnight Delivery is an execration that must be avoided at all costs, even by the biggest fans of the two stars, who have never been more miscast.  The title of this film was probably stamped on the front of the fetid screenplay, so anemic in thought and execution, it was likely written and delivered to the studio overnight.  Like, gag me, Witherspoon!

©2004 Vince Leo