Peter Bogdanovich may be the victim of having too much too soon, as he was well known for his work in the early 1970s, starting with The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, but experienced a string of poorly received work as well. Following the 1980 murder of his girlfriend Dorothy Stratten (at the hands of her estranged husband), he stayed out of the business (and was bankrupt) for awhile, but returned in 1985 with the excellent film Mask. In Illegally Yours, he manages t… cast Rob Lowe (The West Wing) as a lovestruck kid named Richard Dice who returns home to Florida.
When he gets back, he is called for jury duty, and the defendant in the case is an elementary school crush named Molly (Colleen Camp, Election). Richard decides to follow Molly, and quickly notices that there are other people following her. In the process of following her, he decides that she could not possibly have committed the crime, and will do anything possible that he can do in order to get her acquitted.
The story, written by Max Dickens and M.A. Stewart, is the victim of several circumstances. The first is that Bogdanovich was clearly out of his comfort level in shooting this comedy, as he has done as poorly in directing similar change of pace films (witness At Long Last Love). Second, while Lowe has evolved into a decent comic actor, in 1988, he clearly was a beefcake to a lot of women out there. And putting him in a role where he had to wear glasses and not come off as a big stud was simply a disaster. People loved him in About Last Night and Youngblood for a reason. And considering this film was released around the time of his personal problems, he was simply box office anthrax at the time. And third, the story is a little all over the place. There are some cute moments, but nothing that would be called “earth-shaking” or “funny” by any stretch of the imagination.
While Bogdanovich has settled into a role of occasionally directing and appearing in episodes of The Sopranos, the demise that he experienced is one that’s a bit disappointing. Hopefully he’s got a couple more great films in him, it would be nice to see him enjoy the success he had when he first debuted.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is fairly weak, with a lot of areas that you simply have to crank the speakers in order to hear the action. After looking and seeing that it’s a mono track, I understand why.
Pick either the full frame version or the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen one. The picture is a little bit better than the director’s cut of Bogdanovich’s Mask, but there’s something about it that’s fairly bland somehow, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Nothing else except for a trailer.
Recommended more if it aired on TV than a rental, there are far better films that have either Lowe or Bogdanovich involved. Go rent those and skip this one.
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