The Story of Us (1999)

THE STORY OF US is a disarmingly pleasant surprise.  An enjoyable, 
at-times adorable, and very readily digestible romantic-comedy-
with-occasionally-heavy-drama, director Rob Reiner's latest pairs 
Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer as a long-married, newly-separ-
ated California couple.  While the kids are at camp, they're tak-
ing time off, which, for us, means lots and lots of flashbacks.  
(And montages of flashbacks.)  There's also a framing device in
there, with the two characters-- never together-- talking to the 
camera.  Or sometimes narrating.  Confused?  You might be, just as
you may notice that the frequent flashbacks makes for one helluva
momentum-sapper.  (This one plays more like a series of sketches
than a traditionally, uh, arc-ed story.)  And though many/most of
the scenes are more lighter-hearted than not-- such as Rita Wil-
son's riotous "R"-rated tirade on men versus women-- the script 
*does* blow hot and cold.  So have thy hankie handy...

On the leading person front, Willis and Pfeiffer are the textbook 
example of star chemistry.  They're a warm, wonderful pair.  (Who 
knew?)  The supporting cast is no less successful, with intermit-
ten scene-stealing by the director, the aforementioned Mrs. Tom 
Hanks, a hilariously overacting Paul Reiser, and, in one wonderful 
scene that visualizes the "six people present when two people ar-
gue," showbiz vets Tom Poston, Betty White, Red Buttons (!), and 
Audrey Meadows (!!) as the 'rents.  Only the too-tidy ending dis-
appointments, but not by much.  Not with Pfieffer's character act-
ing as cute as she does.  Nor with such amusingly absurd moments
coming before, such as when the Meaning of Life is summarized as
"There is no such thing as an ass."  With Tim Matheson (looking
old) and Julie Hagerty (looking older).  Screenwriters Alan Zwei-
bel and Jessie Nelson are credited with the adult-oriented and oc-
casionally brazenly non-PC script (see: lisp, birthmark, and pro-
state).  Good job, guys.  (Rated "R"/94 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1999 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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