How Can You Forget Paris
"Forget Paris" starring Billy Crystal and Debra Winger tries in part to emulate the success of the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" with it's adult orientated romantic comedy although taking on a slightly different tale. But then it tries to add more than your normal pre-marriage romance by showing the ups and downs of a married life. I say tries because whilst all the romantic build up works wonderfully full of romance and charm, "Forget Paris" hits a lull when it takes on the subject of marriage before regaining that magic and charm towards the end. "Forget Paris" is by no means a terrible movie even if it does sort of go walk about during the middle section.
In "Forget Paris" Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally) stars as basketball Ref Mickey who heads off to France to bury a father he had little to do with where he meets Ellen (Debra Winger - Terms of Endearment), an American working at the Paris airport who helps him when the airline manage to lose his father. They hit it off immediately and after a brief romance in Paris fall in love. But when Ellen moves back to America to be with Mickey the path of true love never runs smoothly as they soon find out. All of which is explained to Liz as a group of friends regale her with the tale of Mickey and Ellen whilst waiting for dinner and guests to arrive.
There is a lot which is very good about "Forget Paris" and indeed the combined storyline of romance and marriage is a clever idea, allowing the movie to try and be different from all those other romcoms. The trouble is that the romantic build up, the tale of Mickey and Ellen falling in love in Paris is so charming that what follows is hard pressed to compete. Yes, the romantic build up is quite cliche and Billy Crystal who also directs the movie is happy to throw routine scenes at us such as the tie in to a classic movie followed by a dance in front of a bridge. But then in that "Sleepless in Seattle" way it adds a bit of magical charm with it's it nod to the golden age of movies. Of course a lot of it has that fantasy feel to it, such as the romance which we all would love to feel but it also gives it that feel of entertaining escapism, a bit of feel good romance even if it is unrealistic.
But then it has to be said when the movie changes focus and concentrates on the ups and downs of marriage after a whirlwind romance it does seem to lose track. Yes "Forget Paris" is still romantic and amusing, but that magical feel is understandably lost replaced with a bit more realism. If it wasn't such a great lead in to the movie, then this middle section wouldn't feel so under par because on its own it works well. Even though it does feel like it drags in places, there is plenty of entertaining scenes and semi emotional moments as we share the ups and downs of Mickey and Ellen's marriage, many issues which are common place in any marriage, although delivered with just enough humour to not make them over bearing.
What helps to keep you entertained is that "Forget Paris" is told in sort of a narrative manner around a dinner table, where a group of friends regale a new friend with the tale of Mickey and Ellen. Although not an over original way of telling a story it certainly helps in the case of "Forget Paris" especially in that middle section where a sudden return to the dinner table helps to change the mood and lift the pace when it seems to be waning
As already mentioned the romantic intro works well and although lives in the realms of being slightly fantastical is charming. But it is the accompanying humour which makes "Forget Paris" such a joy to watch. With Billy Crystal starring it relies heavily on his witty repartee and dry humour but it works well especially in tandem with Debra Winger who for the most ends up being his straight man so to speak but who also cuts a fine line in humour to even it out so it doesn't just feel like a one sided comedy. The humour itself is pretty stereotypical, with quick fire observations which work well. Although it has to be said that some of the jokes date the movie quite badly, some of which will only work if you were approaching adulthood when this was released back in 1995.
As for the performances well as well as providing plenty of merriment the pairing of Billy Crystal and Debra Winger work well together. They are surprisingly believable as a couple in love and equally believable as a couple struggling with married life. "Forget Paris" is by no means either of their greatest performances but are more than adequate. The supporting cast do just as good a job with Joe Mantegna excelling as the chief story teller around the restaurant table.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Forget Paris" achieves that romantic feel of movies such as "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" it does lose it's way when it tries to cover the ups and downs of marriage. In many ways it's a little misguided by trying to cover so much but all in all it's not a terrible movie and the performances of Billy Crystal and Debra Winger carry it wonderfully