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‘Smile Like Yours’ Conceives Humorous Take on Infertility

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the funny, well-done “A Smile Like Yours,” Lauren Holly and Greg Kinnear’s Jennifer and Danny Robertson seem to have it all. They are deeply in love, uncommonly attractive and successful. She runs a San Francisco perfume boutique with her best friend Nancy (Joan Cusack), and he’s a sought-after elevator contractor. They have a gracious suburban home.

All that’s missing is a baby. Danny takes a whenever-it-happens-it-happens attitude, but Jennifer is becoming increasingly desperate to conceive. She even goes so far as to attempt to concoct an aphrodisiacal perfume, even though we’re told they make passionate love every night.

Infertility scarcely seems a cause for humor. But it is the measure of debuting director Keith Samples and his co-writer Kevin Meyer that this movie is all the more rewarding for tackling such a ticklish issue with wit as well as compassion.

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Indeed, the Robertsons’ difficulty in conceiving a child deftly becomes a metaphor for all the pressures that bear upon--and undermine--contemporary marriage. For several generations, the media have held up fearsome standards for perfect connubial bliss. Couples must be great-looking and be great lovers; they must have great jobs, live in great homes and, of course, have great kids.

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With affectionate humor, the filmmakers bring the Robertsons to that inevitable moment of truth that dictates they seek out a fertility clinic, and at this point the film takes on a nifty satirical edge. They’re immediately made to feel intimidated by the intense, implacable authority of the clinic’s doctor (France Nuyen, subtly amusing) and its gloriously insensitive head nurse (scene-stealing Marianne Muellerleile), of whom Danny observes that he now knows what happened to that nurse in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Having raised such a delicate subject so boldly, the filmmakers unfortunately smudge their fade-out in the film’s climax. But “A Smile Like Yours” is nonetheless an uncommonly thoughtful and intelligent mainstream entertainment, painstaking and stylish in every aspect.

Always a good sign, the entire cast shines, not just the stars. Key are Jay Thomas as Danny’s wise best pal and co-worker; Jill Hennessey, a standout as a vampy architect; Christopher McDonald as a smooth cosmetics tycoon; and Donald Moffat as a pompous physician.

There’s also a sparkling unbilled cameo by a legendary star whose identity won’t be revealed here.

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* MPAA rating: R, for some sex-related material. Times guidelines: The film is much preoccupied with sex and love-making in relation to conceiving children.

‘A Smile Like Yours’

Greg Kinnear: Danny Robertson

Lauren Holly: Jennifer Robertson

Joan Cusack: Nancy Tellen

Jay Thomas: Steve Harris

A Paramount Pictures and Rysher Entertainment presentation of a David Kirkpatrick production. Director Keith Samples. Producers Kirkpatrick, Tony Amatullo. Executive producer Robert Harling. Screenplay by Kevin Meyer and Samples. Cinematographer Richard Bowen. Editor Wayne Wahrman. Costumes Jill Ohanneson. Music William Ross. Production designer Garreth Stover. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

* In general release throughout Southern California.


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