Jami Gertz tries hard to transform this predictable-at-every-turn telefilm into something more than a “Pretty Woman” clone, but the two-hour histrionic-fest is besieged by Gina Wendkos’ insipid dialogue and over-the-top characters that should fail to establish a connection with viewers on any level.
Pic uses time-exhausted cliches about the courtship process in relating the relationship between Toby Mastellone (Gertz), a working-class girl from Jersey who ventures into big-time Manhattan, and Sal (Dylan McDermott), a successful printing salesman who looks like he fell from the cover of the fall fashion issue of GQ.
Toby sets her sights on this savvy social climber, hoping he’ll deliver her from her awful existence as a plumber’s daughter.
Naturally the dynamic of girl-meets-boy-from-across-the-tracks (in this case, the Hudson River) propels the bulk of the story and the relationship hits the expected skids when naysayers start tossing around the “different worlds” phrase — and its variations.
Story brims with implausibilities that rank high on the “they wouldn’t do that” scale (Sal wrecking his superexpensive Mercedes Benz to prove his sincerity), and Wendkos’ characters, despite the efforts of director David Burton Morris, are neither interesting or endearing.
Below-the-line efforts surpass those above, with kudos to director of photography Ron Fortunato and production designer Lester Cohen for deftly grasping the sights and textures that define the feel of the old neighborhood and the chill of the big city.