Frankie and Johnny is an all-star, high-gloss, feel-good romantic feature sitcom. Amiably written and performed but fearsomely predictable, this middle-of-the-road adaptation of Terrence McNally’s off-Broadway hit [the 1987Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune] invites audiences to indulge in watching beautiful movie stars play lonely little people struggling to find love.
Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer are cast in the roles originated onstage by Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham in the Manhattan Theater Club Workshop. Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall sprinkles a little of his Cinderella dust on this story of an ex-con who takes a job as a short-order chef in Manhattan and instantly falls for a hard-case waitress.
He is as persistent as she is resistant and, at one point during his efforts to woo Frankie, Johnny breaks down and takes a tumble with a brassy waitress (Kate Nelligan). But he is otherwise singleminded in his pursuit.
Like a warm, slobbering dog who can’t leave people alone, Pacino’s Johnny comes on real strong, and his pronounced neediness is too much at times. No one’s going to believe that Pfeiffer hasn’t had a date since Ronald Reagan was president, and no matter how hard she tries to look plain, there is no disguising that she just gets more beautiful all the time. But she gives a performance filled with many moods and numerous affecting moments.