“That Old Feeling” is an appropriate title for a romantic comedy that plays like an Americanized filmed version of a ‘60s British stage farce.
Fortunately, with Bette Midler showing the way, this warmed-over concoction of “Father of the Bride,” “The First Wives Club” and Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” has its share of pleasurable moments. Both Midler and Dennis Farina are terrific. The problem is, while the trailers would have you believe otherwise, their screen time together accounts for maybe half of the picture, and in those scenes where the pair are nowhere to be found, the unseasoned supporting cast struggles in their wake.
While the Carl Reiner-directed result is uneven, Midler’s revitalized movie career should ensure “That Old Feeling” generates a respectable sensation, but don’t count on “First Wives” deja vu.
Reuniting with “Outrageous Fortune” scripter Leslie Dixon, Midler plays the part of Lilly, a paparazzi-stalked movie star who is destined to make a scene at her daughter Molly’s (Paula Marshall) wedding to the ultraconservative Keith (Jamie Denton), given that her long-estranged but not-forgiven husband, Dan (Farina) will also be attending.
With their new mates in tow (David Rasche and Gail O’Grady), Lilly and Dan don’t disappoint with a knock-down, take-no-prisoners rumble that culminates in - surprise - renewed pangs of passion. Throwing decorum to the wind, they immediately embark on a hotblooded affair, leaving a trail of bewildered loved ones chasing after them.
Midler is in fine form both professionally and physically. In contrast to the frumpy housewife she played in her previous outing, she makes one sexy 51-year-old.
She handily lights up the screen whether hurling those now-trademark zingers or delivering a lovely rendition of that old chestnut, “Somewhere Along the Way.”
Farina, meanwhile, has turned into a very capable light comic actor as evidenced in “Get Shorty.” Here he more than holds his own against the unbeatable Bette.
The rest of the cast doesn’t fare quite as well.
Required to serve as the true central characters of Leslie Dixon’s lopsided script, Marshall (a regular on “Chicago Sons”) and Danny Nucci as a baby Joe Pesci paparazzo with a heart of gold (yeah, right!) just don’t have the comic chops to fill the many voids left when Midler and Farina aren’t in the picture.
While not vintage Reiner, this filmed-in-Toronto enterprise nevertheless bears several comedic marks of the master.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THAT OLD FEELING Location: Newport, Post Falls Cinema Six, Showboat Credits: Directed by Carl Reiner, starring Bette Midler, Dennis Farina, Paula Marshall, Gail O’Grady, David Rasche, Jamie Denton, Danny Nucci Running time: 1:45 Rating: PG-13