Wishful Thinking (1996) starring Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Beals, James LeGros, Jon Stewart, Eric Thal directed by Adam Park Movie Review

Wishful Thinking (1996)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Jennifer Beals and James LeGros in Wishful Thinking

What were they Thinking

The title sort of sums up the movie because "Wishful Thinking" is just that. Here we have a movie which is trying to be an offbeat romantic comedy, it tries to be quirky as it delivers 3 view points of the same story and at the same time incorporates not only old black & white movies but then reshoots them with the stars of this movie. All of which does sound a little entertaining and different except one thing was forgotten and that was to have an interesting storyline which incorporated laughs. In fact for a movie which so obviously tries to be funny "Wishful Thinking" ends up unbelievably dry and being dry ends up making it dull.

Told from 3 different viewpoints "Wishful Thinking" tells the story of Max (James LeGros - Singles) who after saving a dog meets Elizabeth (Jennifer Beals - Flashdance) and they hit it off, date and move in together. But when the subject of marriage comes up it throws a spanner in the works as Max doesn't feel ready. But following this awkward moment things change Max becomes paranoid that Elizabeth is having an affair and having secretly been in love with Max his co-worker Lena (Drew Barrymore - Batman Forever) uses the situation to feed his paranoia in the hope that he finishes with Elizabeth. But is Elizabeth having an affair with Jack (Jon Stewart), the man who Max believes has a thing for her?

Jon Stewart and Drew Barrymore in Wishful Thinking

To be fair there is part of me which likes "Wishful Thinking" and that part likes the fact it is trying to be slightly different to the norm, maybe not original but at least not identical to every other romantic comedy. As such the actual storyline is strangely interesting with the disintegration of a relationship as the subject of marriage causes things to change between Max and Elizabeth. Before the actual disintegration we do get a romantic montage, an offbeat meet cute, a date, sex in the bathroom and before we know they are living together and that subject of marriage crops up and causes issues.

Now this disintegration is delivered in 3 separate chapters, showing it from Max's point of view as he becomes paranoid that Elizabeth is cheating on him. We then have his friend Lena's view point who works with Max and is in love with him, so in love with him that she has cunningly aided his paranoia with lies about Elizabeth. And then we get Elizabeth's view point and basically as we watch these different views we learn and understand a bit more about what is going on, why Max is paranoid and what happens when we see him burst through the door expecting to catch Elizabeth in the act.

In fairness I like this, it is different but because each chapter is so dry and also choppy that it really struggles to get your attention let alone keep it. There is humour but not what you would call mainstream and it seems almost desperate when a mainstream joke, such as Max hitting his eye on a coat hook, is thrown in to try and get laughs. It's almost a case of it trying too hard to be offbeat and so feels very false.

It's not all bad and whilst it is over used the incorporating of old black & white movies is a nice touch especially when you double take and realise that you are watching the cast of "Wishful Thinking" re-enacting old movies with a little twist. But it is over used and it is a case that it feels like it is again trying a little too hard to be different, to be quirky and at times arty.

As for the performances well forgettable is the only way I can describe them, which doesn't mean they were bad just ordinary. So whilst we have Drew Barrymore leading a cast which includes Jennifer Beals and James LeGros none of the main trio really grab you. In fact it is Jon Stewart as Henry who ends up being the most entertaining character because ironically he is mainstream funny and so it stands out with everyone else trying to be different.

What this all boils down to is that "Wishful Thinking" is unfortunately not a good romantic comedy and it is a case that whilst I like movies which try to be different this one tries a little too hard and it is not helped by quiet a weak script which makes not exactly engrossing.