If the Kansas School Board wants anecdotal evidence against the theory of Evolution, how about this? 1960 gave us Billy Wilder's masterpiece, "The Apartment" with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray, all at their best.
But here in 1999, our version is the s******ing, banal "Three to Tango," with TV stars, Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell, and Dylan McDermott. That's a shocking case of DEvolution in less than 40 years.
Perry plays Oscar Novak, a struggling architect who, along with his partner (in business, but not in life), Peter Steinburg (Oliver Platt) is bidding to design a new Chicago art museum. The philanthropist billionaire who is funding the project, Charles Newman (McDermott) mistakenly thinks that Oscar, and not Peter, is a homosexual.
Newman is married, but is very jealous of his mistress, a struggling artist named Amy Post (Campbell). Dangling the museum project over his head, Newman intimidates Oscar into accompanying Amy to events, figuring he is a safe escort.
Of course, Oscar falls in love with Amy, and she with him-- though she doesn't know it.
The rest of the movie is smarmy sitcom material, with Oscar being feted as "Gay Business Man of the Year" for his museum design, lots of romantic misunderstanding scenes, and even his having to fend off the advances of his favorite football player, Kevin Cartwright (Cylk Cozart).
One irritating side note: I'm not sure what year the film makers think this is, but the odds that a major Chicago daily would think it was headline material that an architect designing an art museum is "GAY!" seem very long, indeed.
Matthew Perry, aside from a distractingly odd haircut (that is probably supposed to be a contributing factor to the misunderstanding) essentially plays the same character as on TV's "Friends." Oscar not only has some of the identical quirks as Chandler, even the misconception of the premise is borrowed from a "Friends" episode.
As for the other actors, Dylan McDermott is too bland and pretty to generate much menace as the scheming rich snake; and Neve Campbell doesn't add much depth to the character of Amy beyond Campbell's natural appeal. Oliver Platt seems to have fun with his character, though it often degenerates into mincing, prissy cliche.
Even the movie's supposed anti-stereotype message is lost in a screenplay that constantly engages in them. After an hour and a half of such jokes, the movie climaxes with a supposedly Capra-esque big speech scene in which that moral is rammed down the audiences throats.
"The Apartment" made a powerful statement about corporate politics, not just sexual ethics. This movie waters down the power struggle by its more 90s premise. Fred MacMurray assumed that nebbish Jack Lemmon would not dare defy him, Newman just thinks that Oscar is incapable.
The poignant bonding moments in "The Apartment" come when Jack Lemmon nurses Shirley MacLaine back to health after her suicide attempt. Here, it's in the form of a projectile vomiting scene after the two eat a bad tuna melt. The couple that pukes together...
Audiences who spend $7.50 on this scummy flick, are likely to have a similar reaction.