Review: 'Matchmaker' -- Super Garofalo, so-so movie
October 1, 1997
Web posted at: 10:08 p.m. EDT (0208 GMT)
From Movie Reviewer Paul Tatara
(CNN) -- It's time to face the facts. My name is Paul, and I
am in love with Janeane Garofalo. I mean that quite
literally. I will volunteer right now to marry Janeane
Garofalo. I'll cook for her and I'll let her yell at me when
she's mad. I'll bring her flowers. I'll clean the scum on
the shower curtain. I won't say anything if she mocks Bob
Dylan's voice, and I'll let her try out new jokes on me.
Janeane, if you're reading this, now is your opportunity to
forever disregard the very concept of self-improvement.
You're honest, endearing, talented, and sharp as a tack just
the way you are.
It would be nice, though, if somebody could put my future
wife in a movie that's worthy of her considerable gifts.
"The Matchmaker," starring you-know-who, is not a terrible
movie by any means. It has a few charming moments, all of
the performances are agreeable, and it takes full advantage
of the gorgeous Irish countryside. It simply isn't all that
funny. That's not to mention the storyline, which wanders
all over the place, like it's a partially trained puppy going
for a walk. The real sin, however, is that Garofalo is
sometimes forced to act overtly precious and do "movie
things," like fall head-over-heels for a shmuck who isn't me,
and deliver a little speech on senatorial campaign ethics.
She plays Marcy, a Boston-based staff worker who does the
grunt work for incumbent Senator John McGlory (Jay O.
Sanders). McGlory needs to generate some good will if he
wants to pull off a re-election bid, so he and his heartless
campaign manager (Denis Leary) send Marcy to Ireland, where
she's supposed to track down McGlory's relatives in the old
country. This is supposedly going to give him the edge in
the land of Kennedy, where, I guess, people vote for
political candidates solely on the basis of shared ancestry.
(He might also re-consider his campaign slogan, "Hey-ho!
Let's go!" I'm no expert, but a senator aligning himself too
closely with The Ramones is probably ill-advised.)
When Marcy gets to the picturesque village of Ballinagra, she
(quite to her dismay) stumbles into the annual Matchmaking
Festival, in which women from around the countryside are
bused in to be hooked up with the hardy bachelors of the
village. Marcy, being way-appealing (see first paragraph),
is soon set upon by everyone in the neighborhood who gets a
little thrill out of an American accent. This includes Sean
(David O'Hara), a former journalist who has fled to this
place to mend a broken heart. Sean and Marcy don't like each
other at first, but you have definite cranial problems if you
think that situation isn't going to change drastically by the
end of the movie. That kissy-huggy finale, by the way, will
not disappoint end-of-movie freeze frame fanatics. Stop me
if you've seen this one.
This is supposed to be held together by little interludes
concerning one of the two local matchmakers (Milo O'Shea, who
you may know as the Irish judge in "The Verdict.") O'Shea is
sometimes amusing when explaining, in not-very-scientific
detail, exactly how matchmaking works. It's just that his
character, and the whole concept of matchmakers, isn't really
necessary. It skirts around the edges of the story for the
very good reason that Marcy is too smart and modern to have
anything to do with something so antiquated. Another major
flaw is that David O'Hara really isn't much of a romantic
lead. His entire being generates about one-third the
charisma that Garofalo can flash with her teeth.
In fact, her sheer appeal carries the entire movie for the
first 20 minutes, when there's nothing going on except for
Marcy marching from building to building, trying to locate
the senator's kin. I had really high hopes for the rest of
the film at this point because (for a little while, anyway)
Garofalo is allowed to wield the kind of dagger-like sarcasm
that best suits her. Like I already said, though, everything
eventually turns into a big pile of marshmallows. I can live
with a sugary ending (this kind of story practically requires
it), but I'd prefer one lump right at the end, instead of a
steadily increasing dose spooned in throughout the third act.
I have no idea if she has an inclination toward it, but
Garofalo should consider writing her own screenplay. On
stage, her observational humor has a biting, tired humanity
to it that's always missing from her film roles. Let her
consistently sigh and moan at the absurdity of it all, and
maybe punch somebody in the mouth at some point. An actress
this unique, and with this much natural backbone, should be
allowed to assert her position.
"Matchmaker" has a couple of sex-based jokes, but they're
absolutely harmless. Some profanity, too. No nudity. I
couldn't imagine anyone being offended by the film, but you
won't be phoning relatives, either. Rated R. 90