Review: ‘For Better or Worse’

Only half the title "For Better or Worse" is on view in the broadcast premiere of the Jason Alexander-directed romantic comedy. The tortured tale of a patsy begins on a low note and sinks further into a pathetic quagmire of lame jokes and hackneyed mating drivel.

Only half the title “For Better or Worse” is on view in the broadcast premiere of the Jason Alexander-directed romantic comedy. The tortured tale of a patsy begins on a low note and sinks further into a pathetic quagmire of lame jokes and hackneyed mating drivel.

One can understand why trial theatrical runs in ’95 in Minneapolis and Seattle prompted Sony to put the film on the shelf. Less apparent is why the company decided to unveil the picture on sister cable network TNT — regardless of the fee secured.

In addition to directing, Alexander plays Michael Makeshift, a compulsive who’s addicted to everything save a steady job. His longtime fiancee has recently left him, and when things couldn’t get worse, his wastrel brother Reggie (James Woods) arrives on the scene with Valeri (Lolita Davidovich), his feather-brained new wife.

Reggie promptly entrusts his spouse to Michael’s care and sets off to make a financial killing with his low-life pals. For some inexplicable reason, Michael and Valeri develop a growing attachment. However, before it can progress, the tables are turned on Reggie, and his goon buddies force him to bring along his family as assistants and decoys in a bank job.

Virtually nothing goes right in “For Better or Worse,” beginning with the plot and extending to performances, direction and comic pacing. Alexander gets points for rounding up such scene-stealers as Woods, Rip Torn, Joe Mantegna and Rob Reiner, but he squanders their talents.

However, no one is more abused than Davidovich, who’s dressed and lit to convince us unequivocally of her unattractiveness.

The effort is a complete hash down to its anachronistic, bouncy music score. This could only be considered a delight for people who find fingernails scratching across a chalkboard to be soothing fare.

For Better or Worse

Wed. (21), 8-9:30 p.m., TNT

Production

Filmed by Columbia Pictures and Castle Rock Prods. Executive producer, Jeff Nathanson; producer, David Rotman; director, Jason Alexander; writer, Nathanson.

Crew

Camera, Wayne Kennan; editor, Michael Jablow; production design, William Elliott; art direction, Kenneth Hardy; sound, Robert Eber; music, Miles Goodman; costumes, Charmaine Nash Simmons.

Cast

Cast: Jason Alexander, Lolita Davidovich, James Woods, Joe Mantegna, Jay Mohr , Robert Costanza, Beatrice Arthur, John Amos, Rob Reiner, Rip Torn, Ken Lerner, Una Damon.
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