This charming, almost sedate little romantic comedy, which is short on laughs but tinged with a pleasant European flavor courtesy of British director Anthony Minghella, offers an appealing array of characters lacking a villain or heavy – just a lot of well-meaning folks stumbling their way through life, trying to find a soulmate.
The hook, which almost makes Mr. Wonderful sound like the screwball comedy it’s not, centers on the efforts of blue-collar worker Gus (Matt Dillon) to marry off his ex-wife, Leonora (Annabella Sciorra), as a means of escaping his alimony payments, only to rekindle his feelings for her in the process.
Unfortunately, Gus is already involved with Rita (Mary-Louise Parker), while Leonora – in the midst of an affair with her married professor (William Hurt) – reluctantly agrees to go on a few blind dates, eventually meeting a truly nice guy, Rita’s friend Dominic (Vincent D’Onofrio).
Story begins almost sluggishly. When things pick up, it’s clear that Mr. Wonderful has more to do with texture and character than its central premise.
What sets the pic apart is the richness of its characters and the top-to-bottom strength of its cast, with Dillon confused yet likable, both Sciorra and Parker radiantly appealing, and Hurt, D’Onofrio and various pals all crafting clear portraits.