Friday November 14, 1997
Richard Mauro's "Nick and Jane" is a well-made Manhattan romantic comedy that could have been better if it didn't surround its engaging principals with so many caricatures.
Every time we're beginning to take seriously a romance between a workaholic financial analyst (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) and an establishment dropout cabby-artist (James McCaffrey), Mauro cuts to their sidekicks. Lisa Gay Hamilton bubbles away with much charm as the analyst's pushy but genuinely concerned best pal, so why does her character have to turn out to be the office dominatrix? And why does the cabby's roommate (Gedde Watanabe), a no-talent, layabout rap artist, have to be a determined foot fetishist?
Comic relief is traditionally supplied by second leads in the telling of a love story, but these sexual hang-ups play lots more contrived than amusing. The effect is to inject the entire film with an unnecessary sense of the artificial. Faring better are the film's two gay characters, the bitchy, elegant Carter (David Johansen), yet another of Jane's office colleagues, and Miss Coco (Clinton Leupp), the cabby's neighbor, a wise drag queen. They're occasionally amusing stereotypes, but presented with clear respect and affection.
It's apparently because Watanabe's Enzo is such a deadbeat, unable to come up with his share of the rent, that McCaffrey's Nick is facing eviction from his apartment in a Lower East Side tenement. If it weren't for that prospect he wouldn't have accepted an offer of $1,500 from Wheeler-Nicholson's Jane to pose as a financial whiz kid at a crucial office party. Nick and Jane, who caught her boyfriend and co-worker (John Dossett) in the sack with another colleague (Saundra Santiago), have met cute a couple of times already.
Since Mauro and his co-writers have taken considerable pains to establish credibility for their two-people-from-different-worlds romance, it's too bad that they sabotaged it with too much sidebar shtick. In any event, Wheeler-Nicholson and McCaffrey are attractive and effective, with McCaffrey, last seen in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," possessing that something extra in looks, presence and personality that could just take him on to bigger and better pictures.
Nick and Jane, 1997. R, for some language. An Avalanche release. Director Richard Mauro. Producer Bill McCutchen III. Screenplay by Mauro, Peter Quigley, Neil W. Alumkal. Cinematographer Chris Norr. Editors Wendey Stanzler, Mauro. Costumes Liz McGarrity. Music Mark Suozzo. Production designer Mark Helmuth. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. Dana Nicholson-Wheeler as Jane. James McCaffrey as Nick. Lisa Gay Hamilton as Vicki. Gedde Watanabe as Enzo.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times