Hard Promises (1991) Poster

(1991)

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7/10
Nicely Done But Not for Everybody
aimless-4616 May 2006
"Hard Promises" is a bit like a doing a rural remake of "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" into which you incorporate the basic premise of "Sweet Home Alabama". While not in the same league as the former, it is considerably less offensive than the latter-which it may have inspired.

Billed as a romantic "comedy", the film contains little humor (unless you are still amused by small town stock characters) and nothing profound in the romance department. But like "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" it is about the interplay of love, freedom, and caring among people who have allowed a considerable distance to grow up between each other.

It features a nice performance by Sissy Spacek (who looks unexpectedly sexy and beautiful) and a nice portrayal of a charismatic character by William Peterson. Yet they are both upstaged by Olivia Burnette who plays the film's Francie character (handled so well by Peggy Ann Garner in "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn").

Joey Coalter (Peterson) is an aimless free-spirit who neglects his wife and daughter while drifting around the country. Like Johnny in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" he is full of unfulfilled promises and pipe dreams. He returns on the eve of his wife Christine's (Spacek) wedding; having been alerted by his daughter that Christine has obtained a divorce during his latest absence. About all Joey has going for him with viewers is that he loves both his daughter and his wife. About all he still has going for him with Christine is the charisma of a free- spirit and a continuing physical attraction.

His daughter Beth (Burnette) is his ally in his attempts to salvage their family, as she is not particularly fond of her mother's fiancée (Brian Kerwin). Kerwin's stable but boring character is the polar opposite of Joey and she thinks her mother is overcompensating for Joey's historical unreliability.

"Hard Promises" is mostly dedicated to exploring Joey's inherent and impossible to change aimlessness. This gets a little oppressive if you are looking for a dynamic story but the film is a successful exercise in unity and style. The score and the editing reinforce this theme and provide a surprising number of really beautiful and moving film moments. The climax is unconventional and they go out on a nice scene between father and daughter.

It is an unexpectedly slick production, a triumph of style over substance-but in a good way.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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10/10
Great film; simple and real.
ctodd100025 March 2003
How do you let go of that "first love" when he's not the right one? A wonderful film with, finally, love and acceptance at the end. What do you do when the high school prom king you married turns out to be a clown, or Peter Pan who will never grow up?

"But you're my home; you can't leave." "You used our home like a motel"

as she finally marries someone else.

He then goes for the little girl, his daughter, who also finally sees through his "promises" and says "Daddy, you don't have to make promises you can't (or won't) keep... I love you anyway, just the way you are."

Love and acceptance: so easy to say, so hard to do... a heck of a wonderful film to promote the reality of relationships and the beauty of the "stable guy" who may not make your heart race, but is there for you thick and thin.

Something to think about, for a long long time. Who wrote the great title songs with screaming guitar? Where can I purchase a CD?
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Great story of love and acceptance
gfgbabycakes23210 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Yes it's the typical love story, William Petersen is mad that his love is going to marry someone else and he goes to win her back, it's a very ordinary typical story, with an original bitter sweet ending. GREAT performance by William Petersen. It's about a man who finally realizes that he took advantage of the best thing he had, and in a 2 day span i believe he matures more in his entire life. Joey (William Petersen) plays the cool captain of the football team, lady's charmer, bad boy rough neck who's used to always having everything go his way. He loves to travel for long periods of time leaving his wife and daughter back home.The only way the marriage has lasted this long is because he comes home sweeps his wife off his feet, becomes dad of the year for one day out of the year, mends his wife's heart only to rip it out again and leave. Finally his wife is tired of being a life long one night stand, and is engaged to Walt. Joey's daughter (who absolutely idolises her father) sends him a wedding invitation so he'll come back home. He's oblivious to the fact they even got divorced, and he is stabbed with cold jealous Immaturely he first gets to town and walks up and punches walt in the face. The next day he tries his hardest to win his wife back, and she realizes she does still love him. The night before their wedding they have a romantic intimate night and Joey thinks everything is alright. But Walt comes to the house the next morning and she chooses him. Hurt and confused he goes and gets a job, prooving to his wife he swears he will not leave (which is NOT another lie, he finally realizes how great he has it and is serious about staying.) His wife explains that she loves him, but she can't go back to all the heartache and she's made her decision. Finally he matures and it hits him that he screwed up the best thing he had, and for once he can't fix it with his charm, and he accepts it. The last scene wraps it all up; it's him and his daughter swinging and he's promising that he'll come back next summer and they can build a cabin together and she says "Daddy, you don't have to make me promises, i'll love you anyways."And he realizes this extreme truth out of his third grade daughters mouth, that love is complex and you can't weasel your way in and out of it. EVerything falls into place, he realizes the way things are suppose to be. Really great movie.
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1/10
What movie did these other people see?
whitesheik13 November 2005
One can always count on the IMDb - no matter how bad, how awful a film is, there will be four or five people who invariably give it ten stars and say it's a great film. I mean, I have yet to find the film listed where this does not happen.

Hard Promises does not have one laugh, one real moment, one near-touching scene (even the young daughter's scenes - and I'm a sucker for emotional scenes between parents and children) - the dialog is terrible, the film has not one iota of charm, the direction is blander than bland. The actors all do what they can, but there is nothing to do but work hard to try and make something out of nothing.

Of course, when one does a little further research, one finds that the film was universally panned by just about everyone, and, in its one week engagement at actual movie theaters, it became one of the lowest grossing films in history - a whopping $360,000 or thereabouts. Not many films achieve THAT kind of gross. Great film? No. Good film? No. Bad film? Yes. But, there are obviously four or five people for whom this worked - so, that's something.
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8/10
A pleasant romantic comedy with good acting.
bigone9 September 1998
The movie was about a woman's ex-husband coming to town the day before her second wedding to stop the wedding. Similar stories have been filmed many times but the acting made all the characters believable and likeable. Sissy Spacek and William Peterson were very effective in the lead roles and all the supporting players were right on the mark. People addicted to a lot of non-stop action, rather than talk, should look elsewhere.
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8/10
A Cautionary Tale for Peter Pans Everywhere
photoe25 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I caught this film on one of the newer movie channels that run essentially unknown movies from the past. This 1992 completely passed me by at the time. It's so nondescript there isn't much to hang on, other than Sissy Spacek, who was a star at the time. William Petersen was still floundering as a box office draw (a shame), a good decade ahead of his fame on CSI, but a brilliant actor nonetheless.

This film creeps in on you, as you sort of expect a mindless romantic comedy, since it's so light-hearted for the first hour, as Petersen's character employs every trick in the book to try to get his wife back.

The film is very stealthy the way it lures you in with mindless fun and then mild rooting for a man pulling all the romantic stops out to get back his woman, but it just doesn't turn out that way, and is a wonderfully real and thought-provoking film in that sense.

It reminds me a bit of the Wedding Singer, which also covered the topic of an aging ladies man facing realities, though this film isn't sidetracked at its climax.

Then again, the sleepy town everyone is so happy in is supported by a local steel mill that by now, would have shut down, and thrown everyone out of work. Maybe Petersen's Joey character is getting the best outcome anyway. Regardless, Petersen's acting is superb, and you really feel the conflict, pride, and hurt in the trials he goes through to let what was a good wife slip through his fingers, and try to rescue what he can with his daughter.

In the end, what starts as almost a light-hearted farce gets very real and very instructive, and can hit a bit too close to home for any aging Peter Pans. I wouldn't call this escapist fare, but not bad viewing for a man in his late 20s early 30s, which is ironic considering it's something more akin to the lifetime channel. It's message to women is one they know - a steady man is worth marrying. Not exactly a revelation, so I would say this movie is a romantic parable for men - quite a rarity.
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8/10
We know this guy
mspeed449 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I recently re-watched this movie and found the story tends to grow on you with a second viewing. Sissy is always good. William Petersen is such a charmer; even when playing a cad. How many of us have known Joey, unable to move beyond his short-term fame in high school (or college), still wanting the sound and thrill of teenage girls around him. One day, he looks around and realizes his own child is on the threshold of being a teenager and his faithful, sweetheart from high school has grown into an adult and is leaving him behind. That's the story set in a beautiful place with typical neighbors and friends. Watch it for the ending and decide where you fit into this story!
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8/10
Fun to watch
fake-punk8 November 2020
I don't know why there are such bad reviews on this, personally I really enjoyed watching it. Sure it's not gonna be indicted in the Hall of Fame of international cinema, but that's not what it's trying to be. The actors deliver really good performances though, William Petersen especially is spot on and very charming. It's cute and fun and tbh i was kinda surprised at the ending. I recommend it if you're looking for a cute love story or just something easy and light hearted
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1/10
PG? Not!
jjjppx29 August 2020
Rated pg... way too much cursing- I couldn't watch it!
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7/10
a perceptive and sympathetic study of incompatibility....
ccmiller149223 December 2010
William Petersen is excellent as a thirty-something good ol' boy and absentee husband who is about to grow up a bit as he's forced to face some uncomfortable facts about himself. Sissy Spacek is his newly divorced wife who is about to remarry when he comes barreling back into her life to prevent it....These two would have never gotten married if they had had a good astrologist do their charts in detail; he's very much a Sagittarius, probably with afflicted aspects in his sixth house, whereas she's a dyed in the wool Cancer. They obviously have great physical chemistry but severely conflicting emotional and psychological temperaments and needs. It took her 12 years of anguish to divorce him even though they still love each other. He's trying very hard to win her back and nearly does but ultimately she's more adult then he is and her resistance though nearly crumbling, persists. The film stands as a perceptive and sympathetic study of basically incompatible characters with a knowing and abiding understanding and fondness for each other who will never be able to weld into a viable union.
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5/10
Will revisit my rating after watching
cageyk-465783 September 2020
I'm about to sit down and watch this movie. The reviews that are posted I find confusing as there are apparently eight people who don't know what they're talking about with assorted reviews between 7 & 10 and two "visionaries" who have rated it a "1".
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7/10
*does wishy washy thing with hand*
libra_chick1729 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I thought this was an okay movie. Not the best i've ever seen but it's the only one with William Petersen in it that i have so thats always a bonus.That the reason i watched it in the first place,William Petersen is hot, and thats the strong point of the movie:-) I did find some parts funny however.I liked the whole chair thing at the wedding rehearsal. They weren't hilarious but still good. And there were some emotional parts in it. And of course there are always the times when you just fast forward through(the whole seeds thing was just stupid.) Overall i liked the movie. It had a good subject, but could have been done better. Another thing i did like was the acting.
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