Fools Rush In

on February 14, 1997 by Carole Glines
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   The title "Fools Rush In" offers reviewers an almost irresistible chance to trash an honorable attempt at romantic comedy. Although it's true that brainless fans of TV "Friends" star Matthew Perry might be the only ones rushing to see this film, it has some moments of genuine feeling that others would also enjoy.
   Perry stars as Alex, who while planning to open a Las Vegas nightclub for his firm has a one-night stand with the Mexican-born Isabelle ("From Dusk Till Dawn's" Salma Hayek). She vanishes after their impulsive romp but returns three months later to tell Alex she's pregnant with his baby. Alex decides to marry her, but their marriage sinks because of their dramatically different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Both must finally decide if they can make a fresh start.
   Based on a true love story about producer Doug Draizin and his wife, co-produced Anna Maria Davis, the Katherine Reback/Joan Taylor screenplay is chockful of needless stereotypes involving Isabelle's huge Hispanic family and Alex's WASP parents. Isabelle is portrayed as the classic Latin spitfire, bewitching Alex with her uninhibited dancing as she cooks in the kitchen. When she gets made, she screams at him in rapid Spanish. Meanwhile, Alex's parents--whose conservative outfits shout "preppy"--turn up their Presbyterian noses at Isabelle's Catholicism.
   Despite these cliches, Alex and Isabelle's relationship becomes more interesting as the movie goes along, and becomes particularly poignant when they split up. Perry makes a credible everyman, but he's oddly sexless in the lead. Hayek dominates the screen in one of the more commanding women's roles audiences are likely to see. Isabelle more than shares the action with Alex, which is the key to satisfying screen romance. (One hopes other filmmakers will note Hayek's talent and use her in roles for which ethnicity is irrelevant.) Jill Clayburgh is the funniest supporting performer, bringing a droll wit to her brief part as Perry's mom.
   Ultimately, this is a pleasant date movie that succeeds more with romance than comedy, although there are a few visuals that offer a chuckle at--naturally--Las Vegas' expense. Starring Matthew Perry, Salma Hayek, Jon Tenney and Jill Clayburgh. Directed by Andy Tennant. Written by Katherine Reback and Joan Taylor. Produced by Doug Draizin. A Columbia release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sensuality and brief language. Running time: 106 min
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