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Called up for jury duty, Richard Dice finds his first crush and only real, but unrequited love, on trial for murder. Richard desperately tries to prove Mollys innocence while untangling a complicated web of murder, blackmail and perjury, and still trying to win over the girl of his dreams. Written by
"If you keep people busy and confused, they're likely to think they are having fun..."
That quote is from P.J. O'Rourke's guide to hosting a party in his classic work, "The Bachelor's Home Companion". To me, it pretty much sums up the appeal (what there is of it) of this film. Or to put it another way, in his effort to construct a "screwball comedy", Bogdonovich kept throwing things at the wall in the hopes that some of them would stick.Fortunately, some things do.
Nothing about "Illegally Yours" is particularly inspired (in fact most of it is strained and contrived), and no one in it is particularly great at comedy...the best most of the actors can muster is a kind of wide-eyed incredulity. But the plot throws so many twists and turns at the viewer, and there are so many rapid-fire "bon-mots" and quirky lines and bad puns that eventually the movie reduced me to a state of mild bemusement...and after the movie had been hitting me over the head with "funny funny funny" for 40-50 minutes. I gave in and actually snorted with laughter once and chuckled a couple of other times. I even guffawed once. Just once, but that's still better than anything Ben Stiller has been able to do since "Mystery Men".
I think it was easier for American filmmakers impress American audiences with screwball humor before Monty Python,Red Green,"Black Adder","Fawlty Towers" and similar imports caught on here. In comparison to Pythonesque and Newhartesque whimsy and wordplay, this movie's script is a bit stodgy and leaden. But it's still mildly funny even today, and none of the players (even Rob Lowe, who I've never liked) have anything to be ashamed of here.
Do not skip your fiftieth viewing of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" to see "Illegally Yours", but if IY is on opposite something dull and unfunny like "Gone Fishing", you may want to check it out.
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