"Miami Rhapsody" plays like "Hannah and Her Miami Sisters," a very Woody Allen-ish romantic comedy about the amorous travails of a family of neurotics. Directorial debut by TV and film writer David Frankel offers no new insights into the human condition, but glosses over it in beguilingly entertaining fashion.
“Miami Rhapsody” plays like “Hannah and Her Miami Sisters,” a very Woody Allen-ish romantic comedy about the amorous travails of a family of neurotics. Light, effervescent and exceedingly colorful, directorial debut by TV and film writer David Frankel offers no new insights into the human condition, but glosses over it in beguilingly entertaining fashion, creating the prospect of warm winter grosses for Disney. World preem took place at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday.That old Woody feeling hits the viewer from the first moments, as Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “Just One of Those Things” cascades from the soundtrack and Gwyn Marcus (Sarah Jessica Parker) addresses the camera (and her shrink) to explain what happened when her boyfriend proposed to her a year before. Like any self-respecting neurotic, Gwyn has as many reasons not to get married as she does to proceed, but still agrees, in flashback, to become engaged to her b.f., Matt (Gil Bellows). However, at the wedding of her promiscuous younger sister, Leslie (Carla Gugino), to football hunk Jeff (Bo Eason), Gwyn’s father, Vic (Paul Mazursky), confides to her that he suspects that her mother, Nina (Mia Farrow), might be having an affair. To Gwyn’s dismay, Nina in short order confirms Vic’s hunch, telling her daughter that she’s seeing studly Cuban Antonio (Antonio Banderas), who happens to be Gwyn’s infirm grandmother’s male nurse. Completing the circle of adultery and deception, Gwyn’s brother, Jordan (Kevin Pollak), is ditching his pregnant wife, Terri (Barbara Garrick), in favor of his business partner’s gorgeous mate (Naomi Campbell); Vic has been secretly seeing his travel agent (Kelly Bishop); and even the just-married Leslie is caught in the act with an ex-beau. Of course, all this rampant fooling around creates the per-fect context for Gwyn to question her own prospects for future connubial bliss with Matt, creating an opening for her to explore the possibilities of getting involved with Antonio. All the plotlines are ultimately worked out in imaginative style, with some of the couples reuniting and some of the lovers going their separate ways, and Frankel effectively uses many recognizable emotional truisms and human foibles as the targets of delightful high humor, which will endear the film to many. This is an outstanding, potentially star-making vehicle for Parker, whose pithy remarks about her relatives’ unrestrainedly active hormones elicit lotsa yocks and whose offbeat, energetic allure gives the tale a scintillating center. Sexy and funny, caustic and vulnerable, she carries the picture in the zingy manner of the best comediennes. Pic’s flavor of New York Jewish humor with tropical coloration and a Latin beat proves distinctive, as if the Woodman and his friends had gone on an extended Florida vacation. This is nowhere more evident than in Farrow’s presence as Gwyn’s mother; she may have left Allen and his films, but the gesticulations and accent she acquired over the years with him remain intact. Remainder of the cast may not be up to the usual Allen level, but all thesps fill the bill proficiently; Banderas is everything the women could want as a Latin lover, Pollak is sharp as the insensitive brother ruled by his libido, and Gugino thoroughly convinces as the sister whose eye roves too much for the rest of her to settle down. Looking thoroughly at home in the milieu, Mazursky waxes both philosophic and neurotic, while Bellows ultimately manages to be more than a straight man to Parker’s torrent of doubts and one-liners. This is a rare comedy in that it’s also a feast for the eye, thanks to the fabulously colorful Miami settings, J. Mark Harrington’s sumptuous production design, Patricia Field’s lively costumes and Jack Wallner’s luminous lensing. Soundtrack is equally tasty, with Mark Isham’s score accompanied by a bright assortment of vintage pop tunes.