Published February 1, 1997
Fools Rush In by Andy Tennant offers us mildly engaging characters and an even more mildly witty screenplay but cannot escape the clichés of its plot—which, when you boil it down, is nothing more than the old work-family conflict. All this romance—and there is a potential romance here of some charm—only so that yet another sensitive 90s man can learn not to put the demands of work ahead of what he owes to the wife. Bah! Humbug! Moreover, the job that so obsesses its New York WASP hero, Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry), is traveling all over the world to build night clubs. And for this he’s going to let Salma Hayek sit home with the dog? Maybe it would make sense if he were saving the world, or advising presidents and potentates, or, Grisham-like, rescuing some poor black guy from the electric chair. But here, we can’t help thinking, is a guy who is simply not old enough to marry.
Another false note is that Miss Hayek’s character, Isabella Fuentes, although she makes her living taking pictures of drunken cowboys in the gambling dens of Las Vegas, aspires to be an art photographer, whose great ambition is to make a collection of photographs of the desert. I’m sorry. I don’t believe it. She has too obviously spent her life in front of cameras, not behind them. But even if she looked more like a real photographer, this little artistic touch would be gratuitous. It would make a better story if she were a cocktail waitress, or a maid. We don’t want her to be merely a yuppie manqué, inexplicably set down in the Nevadan desert with a loud and boisterous Mexican family.
Isabella meets Alex in line for the lavatory at a restaurant in Vegas. She tells him of her belief in fate and signs and other superstitious portents, “an explanation beyond reason and logic that brought you to this very spot at the same time I came to this line.”
“Why would fate go to all that trouble?” asks Alex.
“To save me from having to wait a lifetime,” she says.
Well, invitations do not come much handsomer than that, so the next thing we know they are sharing a bed in Alex’s sparsely furnished Las Vegas house. But—and here comes a third false note—Isabella is quietly collecting her things and slipping away in the early hours of the morning, apparently without any intention of returning. This does not make sense, given all that talk about fate to start with and the thrill of the experience that they both remember when they do meet again. One can’t help thinking that she only goes so that they can meet cute a second time.
Well, not meet cute exactly. She finds that she is pregnant, that he is the father, and she decides that he ought to know, though she wants nothing from him. But he pursues her, meets and is impressed by her family (he is amazed that they see each other even when it’s not a national holiday), and impulsively decides to marry her. His life, he tells her, made sense up until that morning, though he couldn’t decide what sandwich to have for lunch (a cheeseburger or a tuna melt—that Seinfeld touch). Now, he says, “I know exactly what I want and my life doesn’t make any sense. You are everything I never knew I always wanted.” They proceed to get hitched in a Vegas wedding chapel with an Elvis impersonator as witness.
What follows is a mostly failed attempt to exploit the ethnic differences, the tensions and misunderstandings between her family and his, which must finally fall back on the tried and true, as Isabella leaves the selfish oaf who pays more attention to his job than to her and he has to—. Well, you know what he has to do. The best joke in the picture comes when Alex goes shooting with Isabella’s brothers and her ex-fiancé and finds himself sitting in a cactus. Tequila is administered orally for the pain and, as he is brought home, carried face down by the in-laws, we here him say in a slurred, Ricky Ricardo accent: “Lucy, you got a lot of splainin’ to do.” They really should have stopped the thing right there instead of making us hang on through the tedious but inexorable working out of the romantic clichés.