Spanish writer-director Fernando Trueba's "Two Much," sad to say, isn't nearly enough. Whereas Trueba's Oscar-winning "Belle Epoque" was sexy, bittersweet and contemplative and got away with one man making love to four sisters, "Two Much" is tortuously contrived, protracted and hardly sexy at all.
It can't get away with one man making love to two sisters--even when the man is played by Antonio Banderas, no less, and the sisters are Melanie Griffith and Daryl Hannah at their most delectable.
Banderas is a Miami art dealer/con man who makes the mistake of trying to put one over on local Mafioso Danny Aiello but who is rescued, at least momentarily, by Aiello's ex (Griffith), who whisks Banderas off for a night of passion so potent she announces they're getting married.
Hannah immediately spots Banderas for the cad he is but, still on the lam from Aiello's goons, he throws on some glasses, loosens his ponytail and passes himself as his twin brother, an aspiring painter to whom art teacher Hannah is instantly attracted. (An in-joke: Aiello's late father is represented by a newspaper photo of the great character actor Eugene Pallette--Aiello is called Gene Palletto; it's a reference that merely makes "Two Much" look worse compared to the classic screwball comedies that Pallette's name evokes.)
The trouble is that "Two Much" is wildly over-plotted--yet not without a couple of holes--and severely under-characterized. Obviously, the fake brother is meant to represent the Banderas character's better side, that part of himself he's suppressed in a losing struggle to survive.
That Trueba and his brother David, in adapting Donald Westlake's novel, take two minutes short of two hours to wrap up this increasingly credibility-defying romantic comedy reflects their losing struggle to make sympathetic an unsavory guy whom not even Banderas with all his formidable charm can make likable. (You keep hoping Aiello's goons will catch up with him before he can deceive the sisters further.)
Conceivably, the man who pulled off "Belle Epoque" could have made "Two Much" work, but not without the script having first undergone some heavy-duty rewrites and perhaps taking a very dark tone in keeping with the con man's essential cruelty and shallowness. At least all this rather nasty nonsense is accompanied by Michel Camilo's infectious Latin-jazz score. With less screen time, Griffith and Aiello fare better than Banderas and Hannah, whose characters are required to undergo so many excruciating convolutions that the effect is wearying as well as unconvincing. Eli Wallach is game as Banderas' father, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War's Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and Vincent Schiavelli is amusing as a much put-upon sommelier. The film, though hardly a prize, is stolen decisively by the always-scintillating Joan Cusack, who has all the best lines as Banderas' witty Eve Arden-like secretary.
Two Much, 1996. PG-13, for sex-related scenes and dialogue. A Buena Vista release of a Touchstone Pictures presentation in association with Interscope Communications and PolyGram Entertainment of an Andres Vicente Gomez production in association with Lola Films/Sogetel/Fernando Trueba P.C. Director Fernando Trueba. Producer Cristina Huete. Executive producers Ted Field, Adam Leipzig & Robert W. Cort. Screenplay by Fernando & David Trueba; based on the novel by Donald E. Westlake. Cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine. Editor Nena Bernard. Costumes Lala Huete. Music Michel Camilo. Production designer Juan Botella. Art director Carlos Arditti. Set decorator Barbara Peterson. Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes. Antonio Banderas as Art/"Bart" Dodge. Melanie Griffith as Betty Kerner. Daryl Hannah as Liz Kerner. Danny Aiello as Gene Palletto. Joan Cusack as Gloria Fletcher. Eli Wallach as Sheldon Dodge.
"Two Much" puts two sisters and con man in a big to-do over a plot that's "Two Much."
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.