As derivative as it is, Cousins still is a hugely entertaining Americanized version of the French film Cousin Cousine, with nearly the same insouciant tone as the Jean-Charles Tacchella comedy of 1975. It’s been spiced with a dash of 1980s social commentary and a dollop of Italian ethnic flavoring.
Isabella Rossellini and Ted Danson’s sappy, overly sentimental series of rendezvous are well compensated by their relatives’ caustic comments, irreverent asides and other antics at the three weddings, one funeral and other functions all attend during the course of the picture.
Object of most of the ridicule is William Petersen, the unctuous BMW car salesman and Don Juan pretender who starts everything off in the opening wedding scene drooling at Danson’s flamboyantly dressed wife (Sean Young).
It’s obvious enough that Rossellini, the martyred Madonna type who knows of her husband’s philandering, represents prudishness and purity as much as Young, dressed in outlandish high-fashion ruffles of red and black, represents the opposite.
What’s most fun is to get everyone else’s thoughts on the matter. There’s Rossellini’s wealthy mother Edie (Norma Aleandro), cranky old Aunt Sofia (Gina De Angelis) and Danson’s son Mitchell (Keith Coogan), who has a penchant for videotaping family gatherings.
Best of all is Lloyd Bridges, Danson’s iraascible, sporting uncle, who has as much pep in his step and gleam in his eye for Aleandro as the two main couples have combined.