Sabrina (1995) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for some mild language
Running Time: 127 min.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear, Nancy Marchand, John Wood
Director: Sydney Pollack
Screenplay: Barbara Benedek, David Rayfiel (based on the earlier screenplay by Billy Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor (from his play), and Ernest Lehman.)
Review published March 5, 2000
While this slight romantic comedy is easy to watch and amiable enough for an enjoyable evening, considering Harrison Ford's (Clear and Present Danger, The Fugitive) involvement while still a superstar at the box office, it's hard not to be a little let down because it wasn't better. Combine this with a proven director in Sydney Pollack (The Firm, Tootsie), source material from Billy Wilder and Ernest Lehman's adaptation of Samuel A. Taylor's play, and a then sizeable $60 million dollar budget, and you can see why it was considered a great failure at the time of release. Sabrina isn't all bad though, and in fact, for the first 90 minutes it's actually quite well done, with good characterizations, nice locale work, and solid acting from the three leads.
Julia Ormond (I Know Who Killed Me, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) stars as Sabrina, the daughter of the Larrabee family's chauffer, who went by totally unnoticed by her lifelong crush, David (Kinnear, As Good as it Gets). David is renown as the playboy of Long Island, and when Sabrina comes back transformed into a woman after a couple of years in Paris, he sets his sights on the childhood friend he never really paid attention to. Problem is that David is already engaged to the wealthy daughter of a billion dollar businessman, and with their union, the Larrabee family stands to gain a billion dollars in a merger between the two companies. Enter Linus (Ford), the head of the Larrabee corporation, who decides to keep David on ice for a chance to lure Sabrina away from David's eyes until they can come to their senses and consummate the deal.
As much as I like Harrison Ford, probably the largest reason this film was considered a let-down was because of his involvement. His role, although played well, isn't really meaty enough for someone of his stature, and we like him too much to want to see him in the unscrupulous shark role. He also overshadows some of the film's finer and more surprising features, namely the terrific debut performance by "Talk Soup"'s Greg Kinnear as a romantic lead and Ormond in another fine role, although the last commercial one in her career. The downsides to the film are the excessive length (2 hours and 7 minutes) for a romantic comedy and the disingenuous ending, which oddly enough just doesn't feel right enough to make this really a feel-good film.
Sabrina is a bit of an overlooked film that will likely age well, and while it won't achieve the classic status of the original, it probably will be seen in a much better light by today's viewers than at the time of it's release. While Sabrina is one of the more forgettable films in Ford's career, it still manages to deliver enough charm and pleasant comedic touches to entertain most who aren't seeking movie greatness.
©2000 Vince Leo