'Cutting Edge' is divorced from reality, but loaded with charm

March 27, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

For years now, directors have been throwing Shakespeare into unusual settings, largely for the recondite pleasures of confounding critics. But now somebody's really broken through a membrane: "Taming of the Shrew" on ice!

As awful as it sounds, "The Cutting Edge" is an enjoyable piffle, completely divorced from any recognizeable reality (and from Shakespeare), which may be part of its charm. D.B. Sweeney, heretofore unremarkable in films like "Memphis Belle" and "Gardens of Stone," gets to work a little snap-crackle-and-pop into his routine; he's linked to rich girl and snooty princess Moira Kelly.

Sweeney and Kelly do the Kate-Petruchio-mongoose-cobra thing with enough zippy intensity to keep you interested because underneath it you feel their need to make more than perfect circles in the ice. Her name is even Kate. His isn't Petruchio, though; it's Doug.

The set-up is trim: Sweeney's Doug Dorsey is a gifted amateur hockey player, starring in the Calgary Olympics and clearly headed for the NHL, when a vicious check ends his dreams. But his best skill was skating; he was a poet on blades. Meanwhile, in another Olympic venue, Kelly's Kate Mosely is getting dropped by her partner and finishes out of the medals -- again.

She's a total shrew: demanding, selfish, driven, neurotic who burns up partners. In desperation her very wealthy father (Terry O'Quinn) at last brings in the fallen-upon-hard-times Dorsey as a last-gasp partner. The two spat and claw for most of the movie's length as they finally round into form just before. . . the Albertville Olympics.

Except for the two stars, not much is believable in the movie. The ice skating sequences are clearly hampered by Sweeney's lack of skill, and it's crushingly obvious when a skating double has slipped into the picture. He's the guy who never looks at the camera.

'The Cutting Edge'

Starring Starring D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly.

Directed by Paul M. Glaser.

Distributed by MGM.

Rated Pg-13.

** 1/2

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