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Wednesday, October 27, 1999

Three to Tango

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 1999 at 12:00 AM

It could be a coincidence that two of television’s hottest stars appear in a movie that has a painfully shallow TV quality. But it probably isn’t. This yawner of a plot would fill up a half-hour sitcom slot nicely; unfortunately it can’t carry an entire movie.

Damon Santostefano’s Three to Tango follows the quirky, confused romance between pretty artist Amy Post (Neve Campbell) and charmingly goofy architect Oscar Novak (Matthew Perry). Amy’s boyfriend, the rich and married bad guy, Charles Newman (Dylan McDermott), promises to give Oscar and his gay business partner, Peter Steinberg (Oliver Platt), a contract to redesign a city landmark if Oscar – who Charles believes is gay – will befriend and spy on Amy in his absence. The setup gives the whole story away, and never even saves a moment for an unexpected twist.

Besides the fact that this listless romantic comedy is realized in mediocre dialogue, scenes and acting, the love triangle at the center of it has nothing to do with dancing or the tango. During the introduction, some interesting animated effects latch onto the idea with a neato retro swing theme, using the profiles of dancers who look like the movie’s main trio. But the theme never shows up in the movie. You’d think somebody would at least be taking dance lessons. Instead, they’re all doing deep knee bends in the world of cliché.

Then there are the annoying details. Perry appears to be wearing a wig or hairpiece; Campbell’s lips won’t fit over her happy teeth and the gay partner, Peter, wears the bullseye for ready-made homosexual stereotypes. But then again, who isn’t wearing one? Oscar – the awkward knight in shining armor – gets hit in the head, food poisoned and smacked in the crotch, all for the love of a girl who secretly returns his affection but doesn’t know he’s straight. By the time the Gay Businessman of the Year awards roll around, the thought occurs to me that they should have trimmed and saved this script for a new episode of "Friends."

I guess it takes two to tango and three to trip all over themselves.

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