Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

NINE MONTHS (1995) **

Written & directed by Chris Columbus, based on the French film "Neuf Mois" (1994) written and directed by Patrick Braoude. Photography, Donald McAlpine.Production design, Angelo P. Graham. Editing, Raja Gosnell. Music, Hans Zimmer. Cast: Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum, Robin Williams. A 20th Century Fox release. 100 mins. Rated PG-13 (mild sex talk, language)
Given the unhealthy curiosity of the masses. the ridiculous, busybody and hypocritical commotion around the recent Hugh Grant incident will, I am sure, help "Nine Months." That's a pity, because this picture is no great shakes.

One bad omen is that the movie is a remake of the early 1994, and not especially good French movie "Neuf Mois," ("Nine Months"). Hollywood has always remade more French movies than any others, except its own, and the remakes from the French have been overwhelmingly inferior to their models.

The American version was made by Chris Columbus. As a writer and/or director he has concentrated on juvenile themes produced in a juvenile, if not infantile spirit, e.g. "Gremlins,"" the Goonies, ""Young Sherlock Holmes,". His popular triumphs "Home Alone," and "Mr. Doubtfire," were respectively much and somewhat overrated.

In "Nine Months" post-yuppies Hugh Grant and significant other Julianne Moore have been happy together for five years, but when she announces that she is pregnant, he gets upset, dreading that the idyllic, comfortable status quo will change. This causes tensions, frictions, a walkout by Ms. Moore, a change of heart and new paternal instincts in Mr. Grant, and a final "baby makes three" happy ending.

It is all paper-thin stuff, all whipped cream and no underlying pastry. The cream consists of sitcom situations, gags and jokes that are milked for all they're worth, which isn't much. To flesh out this meager dessert Mr. Columbus has added things like a beloved Porsche that crashes (and gets so well fixed that I'd like the address of the body-shop); a shrill couple (Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack) with whom the principals become unlikely friends and who have three initially annoying little girls; a best friend (Jeff Goldblum) abandoned by his wife, making out with spring chickens, giving contradictory advice and bad help to Grant as his moods change.

The actors are unimpressive. Arnold and Goldblum look unnatural, which is not news. But Joan Cusack, who is on my list of top comediennes, is truly wasted in a nothing role --and so is a non-actor, cinematographer Donald McAlpine who shot, among others, "Breaker Morant," "My Brilliant Career," "Moscow on the Hudson," "Patriot Games," " Clear and Present Danger."

For Himself, Hugh Grant, Columbus no doubt studied carefully the Grant-isms of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" so as to repeat them here. Unfortunately, these have been taken to extremes of self-conscious cuteness, un-brightness and insecurity. Grant also acts diffident, mumbles, fumbles and stutters --but he's no Jimmy Stewart. He sometimes grimaces and delivers a furrowed brow that belongs to P.G. Wodehouse characters. And Hugh Grant is no Cary Grant either, having nothing of the chic, class, utter poise and confidence of the late lamented Archie Leach. His profession, by the way, is child psychiatrist, a role in which he is as convincing as George Burns would have been as a member of the College of Cardinals.

Performances and direction play this comedy for laughs and underline them, instead of following the rule that forbids mugging and asks for straight delivery that has text and structure bring out the laughter. The exception to this is when some highly talented actors know exactly how to go over the top and make this funny. This is the case here with Robin Williams. He plays a recently arrived Russian doctor Kosevich, an obstetrician who had only delivered four-legged creatures, murders the English language and acts in grandiose confusion.

The movie's construction is sloppy, has holes and gaps in continuity, hammers tiresomely (except in the Williams sequences) its broad humor or would-be humor, mixes it with cheap and soupy sentiment. All of which means that its box-office future is assured. "Nine Months" may be worth seeing just for the relatively short screen time gien to Williams.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel