Wilder's 'Funny About Love' has drama to balance its laughs

On Movies

September 24, 1990|By Lou Cedrone

YOU SHOULD know, before you consider seeing ''Funny About Love,'' that this is a drama with more than a -- of comedy. The presence of Gene Wilder in the cast might lead you to believe that it's all comedy.

In large part, it is an interesting, diverting film. The opening scenes are quite good. In these, a cartoonist, played by Wilder, meets a caterer, played by Christine Lahti.

It's always reassuring to know that Lahti is in the cast of any film. But there are some troublesome scenes early in the movie that she and Wilder must go through before we get to the better part of the movie. Those scenes have husband and wife (who have both had previous marriages) trying to have a child. She wants parenthood more than he does. They both go through a battery of fertility tests that have been dramatized, for comic effect, in several other films.

When it leaves the clinic, ''Funny About Love'' becomes a much better film. Boy and girl keep trying, but nothing works, and the strain leads to a divorce. She goes on to become a successful restaurateur, and he becomes the author of a Broadway musical.

He has an affair with a young woman who is an unconventional but sensible network sports producer. It is evident, however, that Duffy Bergman (Wilder) is still in love with his ex-wife. She seems to be in love with him, but she is being hard-nosed about TC reconciliation. Will they reunite? Will they adopt? Will they have a baby of their own?

These are questions that are very satisfactorily handled by the script and by the players, beginning with the leads. Wilder, who does so much acting with his eyes, is funny when he should be and serious when he should not. Lahti is lovely throughout, but, of course, she is foremost an actress, and in this instance, gets to do some of the lighter material. It does not tax her.

Mary Stuart Masterson is the irrepressible Daphne Delillo, who knows that Duffy loves her but not quite enough. Anne Jackson and Robert Prosky are Duffy's parents, and Susan Ruttan (''L.A. Law'') is the woman who becomes Duffy's stepmother.

Director Leonard Nimoy (''Three Men and a Baby,'' ''The Good Mother'') seems to have a thing for scripts about children.

''Funny About Love'' is showing at area theaters.

''Funny About Love''

** A cartoonist and a caterer fall in love, marry and try to have a child. When they cannot, they divorce.

CAST: Gene Wilder, Christine Lahti, Stephen Tobolowsky, Robert Prosky, Anne Jackson, Susan Ruttan

DIRECTOR: Leonard Nimoy

RATING: PG-13 (language, sex)

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

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