×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Third Wheel

A relatively upscale cast struggles to pump life into "The Third Wheel," a romantic comedy about a sweet-natured guy whose plans for a perfect night with the girl of his dreams are sabotaged by an eccentric intruder. With a little more wit and invention, this might have been a fun date-from-hell scenario along the lines of "After Hours."

With:
Stanley - Luke Wilson
Diana - Denise Richards
Phil - Jay Lacopo
Michael - Ben Affleck
Kevin - Matt Damon

A relatively upscale cast struggles to pump life into “The Third Wheel,” a romantic comedy about a sweet-natured guy whose plans for a perfect night with the girl of his dreams are sabotaged by an eccentric intruder. With a little more wit and invention, this might have been a fun date-from-hell scenario along the lines of “After Hours.” But it quickly succumbs to soft scripting, lack of rhythm and poorly drawn characters. Pushed back repeatedly on Miramax’s schedule and still awaiting a U.S. release date, the film opened in Italy to limp business Friday, redubbed “Duet for Three” by local distrib Eagle Pictures. Name talent involved should provide commercial redemption as a video title.

Shot in summer 1999, the modest-looking production was exec produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Script was written by Jay Lacopo, who starred in the Affleck-directed 1993 short “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney.” Maybe Affleck finds this guy funny, but others may disagree based on his script and his acting in an irritating key role. The writer-star even gets a featured rap number in the end credits with no connection to anything that’s come before.

All-round nice guy Stanley (Luke Wilson), for reasons never quite made clear, hasn’t had a date in a long time. The arrival in his office of hotshot administrator Diana (Denise Richards) gives Stanley a romantic goal, and he finally succeeds in asking her out after much egging on by office colleague Michael (Affleck).

Michael and the entire office staff monitor Stanley’s progress during the date, placing bets on his chances of physical contact. But while things start out promisingly, the couple are hijacked by Phil (Lacopo), a homeless guy hit by Stanley’s car. Phil makes it his single-minded mission to play Good Samaritan in romantically challenged Stanley’s quest to win Diana, but instead provokes one disaster after another.

Given the inconsistency with which Phil and other characters are developed, the closing revelation of his real m.o. provides no great surprise. Nor does the cynicism of his self-serving agenda bring any edge to the pedestrian proceedings. Lacopo has an amusing moment or two but too often grates, playing Phil as a well-meaning dolt but also a leechlike obsessive. One scene in particular in which Phil engages a busload of passengers in a childlike sing-along game is excruciatingly cute.

Wilson keeps the material afloat to a degree with his relaxed charm. But that same natural ease seems at odds with Stanley’s supposed awkwardness with women. Richards has even less to work with, her business savvy and unexpected sweetness conveyed more through other people’s perceptions of her than anything communicated by the character herself. However, the couple has more appeal than the lackluster material, and the predictably rosy outcome will make this a serviceable enough date movie for undemanding audiences.

Affleck registers smugly in an ill-conceived supporting role, while an unbilled Damon appears briefly as Diana’s hostile ex-boyfriend.

Despite his background as a standup comic and TV presenter, director Jordan Brady — who ostentatiously acknowledges his own work with a poster for his first feature, “Dill Scallion,” plastered across the side of a bus — brings uneven timing and little personality to the comedy, uninterestingly shot in anonymous L.A. locations.

The Third Wheel

Production: A Miramax Films release of an HSI-Tomorrow Films production in association with LivePlanet. Produced by Chris Moore, Stavros Merjos, Adam Rosenfelt, Chad Snopek. Executive producers, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Yoram Pelman. Co-producer, Louis G. Friedman. Directed by Jordan Brady.

Crew: Screenplay, Jay Lacopo. Camera (color), Jonathan Brown; editors, Paul Seydor, Sam Citron; music, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman; production designer, Cosmas A. Demetriou; art director, Gregory R. Branson; set decorators, Christopher Carlson, Herman Camacho; costume designer, Leesa Evans; sound (Dolby Digital), Cameron D. Hamza; associate producers, Jeff Balis, Marc Schaberg; assistant director, Carey Dietrich; casting; Michelle Morris-Gertz. Reviewed on videocassette, Rome, June 3, 2002. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: Stanley - Luke Wilson
Diana - Denise Richards
Phil - Jay Lacopo
Michael - Ben Affleck
Kevin - Matt Damon

More Film

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi displays

    Narendra Modi Wins New Mandate in Indian Election and Divides the Film Industry

    India has returned the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance coalition to power for a second term, with a huge mandate. In doing so, it polarized the film industry. The NDA won 351 seats out of a total of 542. The biggest democratic exercise in the world, more than 600 million Indians voted across six weeks. [...]

  • Director Dean DeBlois and online game

    'Dragon' Director Dean DeBlois and PUBG's CH Kim to Keynote 2019 VIEW Conference

    Dean DeBlois, director and executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and PUBG Corporation CEO CH Kim are the first keynote speakers announced for the 2019 VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, in October. Since it began 12 years ago, VIEW, which stands for Virtual Interactive Emerging World, has continually [...]

  • 'The Cordillera of Dreams' Review: Poetic

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Cordillera of Dreams'

    Rounding out his sublimely meditative, deeply personal documentary-essay trilogy on time, memory and the relationship of Chile’s breathtaking landscapes to its troubled human history, Patricio Guzmán delivers “The Cordillera of Dreams,” a haunting and allusive exploration of the cultural impact of the country’s most spectacular geological feature: its snowcapped mountain spine. Coming after the exploration [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala

    Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala: Mariah Carey, Kendall Jenner and Tiffany Trump

    Kendall Jenner caused a commotion when she arrived. Tiffany Trump went unrecognized until a member of the press pointed her out as she made her way down the carpet. And Mariah Carey flew in to perform a couple of songs. Welcome to this year’s AmfAR Gala Cannes, the AIDS organization’s annual — and largest — [...]

  • 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo' Review: Abdellatif

    Cannes Film Review: 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo'

    A simple but somehow atypical shot opens Abdellatif Kechiche’s new film: a serene closeup of a young woman’s face, as seen through the camera lens of Amir, a budding photographer still finding his perspective. Her expression is ambiguously tranquil, her long hair lightly rustled by a humid breeze, all softly lit by a sinking afternoon [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content