I Love You to Death (1990)

Film review: I Love You to Death (1990), directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Larger than life Joey Boca (Kevin Kline) is an Italian American pizza baker and landlord with a keen eye for the ladies. His wife Rosalie (Tracey Ullman) is blissfully unaware of her husband’s many love affairs, until … she finds out. And when she does, she wants revenge. Not any sort of revenge either – she wants him dead and buried.

Aided by her eastern European mother Nadja (Joan Plowright), Rosalie starts plotting Joey’s murder. Can they do it themselves, or can they convince the loving and loyal young friend Devo (River Phoenix) to do it? Or do they need to actually hire professional hit-men?

Also starring Miriam Margolyes as Joey’s mother, William Hurt and Keanu Reeves as a couple of junkie crooks out to make a few dollars. Heather Graham and Phoebe Cates also make brief appearances.

I’m a sucker for black comedies, and a film about a woman scorned who wants her husband murdered sure is one. My favourite character was Nadja – simply for being hilarious. Picture an old woman who is trying to kill her son-in-law by a variety of means … well, it just tickles my funny bone, because she really doesn’t seem to be the type.

When you then bring in a couple of hapless losers to do the job, and they have issues not chickening out, it’s also very funny.* That’s why I both like I Love You to Death and think it works. It’s very silly while being very dark at the same time, and that’s a good thing.

Kline is a great comedic actor too. I’ve heard that if he’s doing a comedy, he has a moustache. If he’s doing a serious film, he’s clean-shaven. Here, Super Mario Joey has a moustache. As I shortly before seeing this film learned that Kline and Phoebe Cates are an item, I wonder if they met on the set of this film, or if she was brought in because of it. Either way, nice to see the two of them together.

The ending is absurd, to say the least, but still, if you find the idea of a person getting shot but believing he’s got “a virus” funny … and having people arguing over who should put him out of his misery is amusing … then you might enjoy this film. I did. A bit of lighthearted darkness to entertain, with some chuckleworthy (in a good way) performances …

3.7 out of 5 car bombs.

* It could be argued Reeves should’ve stuck to playing this kind of role. He’s good at it, and amusing too.

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