MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Loverboy’: Hold the Pizza

Times Film Critic

When bad things happen to good people, the result is “Loverboy,” which opened citywide Friday with no press previews. In it, Patrick Dempsey plays a disingenuous college boy who, instead of working for $4.80 an hour delivering pizzas on his summer vacation, makes $200 an afternoon delivering warmth, understanding, tenderness and wildly unsafe sex to every unhappily married woman in greater Los Angeles. The password? Extra anchovies on the pizza.

A good many talents crashed and burned on this project, most notably Joan Micklin Silver, the credited director. It is possible to imagine that in really brutish hands, the gamy qualities of this script by Robin Schiff and Tom Ropelewski & Leslie Dixon could have been made worse. That scene, for example, in which the customer for Dempsey’s last “delivery” turns out to be his own mother (Kate Jackson). Shaken but undetected, Dempsey makes a second-story getaway, then sends over the pizza parlor’s one real Italian stud in his place. How about that for an understanding son?

Director Silver is also generous toward Dempsey’s assorted lady-loves, including Barbara Carrera as the perceptive tycoon who puts him onto his true calling, and married ladies Kirstie Alley and Carrie Fisher, among others. But the director has been able to do nothing with this wheezing script, one of the subplots of which involves Dempsey’s dad believing that his son is gay. And the movie’s moments of physical farce are mortifying.

What makes “Loverboy”(rated PG-13 for sexual situations) such a pitiful waste is that Dempsey has so much potential charm. Learning ballroom dancing by following Fred Astaire videos, learning about the world from his matinees, he remains the class of the picture. However, if you crave Dempsey in a role worthy of him, you’ll want “Some Girls.” And if you’re already one of “Loverboy’s” victims, “Some Girls” is mandatory to get the taste out of your mouth, where it lingers like too many anchovies.