Packed with a potentially unwieldy mix of shtick, bathos, sitcom-friendly slapstick and echoes of Woody Allen’s angst-ridden yuppie romances, Forget Paris teeters on the edge of disaster, just like the dauntless courtship that serves as the core of this comedic look at midlife love and marriage. But, amazingly, actor/co-writer/director/producer Billy Crystal manages to keep the predictable plotline and discordant elements from stymieing the pic’s pull on the tear ducts and prod to the funny bone.
Sportswriter Andy (Joe Mantegna) and his fiancee, Liz (Cynthia Stevenson), a fortyish duo on the verge of nuptials, are sitting in a restaurant. Andy starts regaling Liz with the details of the romantic travails of his friends Mickey (Crystal) and Ellen (Debra Winger).
As the story unfolds, other guests arrive, including car salesman Craig (Richard Masur) and his wife, Lucy (Julie Kavner), who add their own details to the Mickey and Ellen legend, which grows darker as the tale unwinds.
Mickey, one of the top referees in the National Basketball Assn., fell in love with airlines exec Ellen four years earlier while visiting Paris. While the couple’s week in Paris was full of laughs, trysts and visits to the Louvre, the marriage that follows is a nightmare of Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley ennui.
Crystal at the top of his game can shotgun one-liners and bon mots while setting up comedic set pieces that deliver howling laughs. Stevenson takes a supporting part that is basically reactive and just about steals the movie. The rest of the cast is sturdy, as is the lensing and Crystal’s generally unobtrusive direction.