CNN logo

Infoseek/Big Yellow

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Main banner

Review: 'Matchmaker' -- Super Garofalo, so-so movie

image strip 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.

vxtreme "The Matchmaker" movie trailer.

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.

Movie clip from "The Matchmaker" (Courtesy Gramercy Pictures)
video icon 3.1 MB/25 sec. QuickTime movie

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 minutes.


Related story:

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Infoseek search  

Message Boards Sound off on our
message boards

You said it...
To the top

© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.