Romantic comedies are often hard to differentiate. You might think that a great romantic comedy would need something special to set it apart — a great gimmick that works well on film, funny scenes, and great chemistry. Of these attributes, Addicted to Love only lacks great chemistry.
Goes to show how important that attribute is.
Sam the astronomer (Matthew Broderick) tries to keep his girlfriend Linda (Kelly Preston) from leaving their small hometown for New York City. But she feels constricted by small town life and leaves anyway. Sam waits for Linda to come back, but she doesn’t return. Instead she sends him a “Dear John” letter.
Sam doesn’t take being dumped lightly, so he sets off for New York in search of Linda.
He finds her with her new boyfriend and he watches them through the window. He discovers that the apartment across the street is abandoned so he makes a nest. He orders a few spare parts from his observatory and lines all the pieces up just right so that his camera obscura projects what’s happening across the street onto the big back wall of the abandoned apartment.
In an inspired moment of great filmmaking, Sam “paints” Linda on the wall. The projected image from the camera obscura is muted because the wall is brown. Sam starts painting the wall silvery white, following Linda’s virtual image around her apartment. Each time she moves, Sam follows, leaving a trail of reflected light where he goes.
Maggie (Meg Ryan) moves into Sam’s nest without telling him who she is or what she’s doing. Turns out that Maggie’s ex-boyfriend (Anton, played by Tchéky Karyo) is seeing Sam’s ex-girlfriend. Maggie has chosen Sam’s nest as the best place to bug and monitor Anton’s apartment.
Between Sam’s and Maggie’s equipment, they have picture and sound: a live-action movie of their ex-significant others.
Though Sam’s motives are pathetic and Maggie’s are spiteful, they find they have a common goal — breaking up Anton and Linda — Sam, so he can reunite with Linda, and Maggie, so she can revel in her revenge.
Most of their schemes are funny, and the movie is full of great lines. One scene has Maggie and Sam watching Anton and Linda with the sound off, while Maggie and Sam supply running comedy a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.
If you’ve seen the previews (or if you know the genre) you already know how it inevitably must end. Actually, the movie ends much more kindly and humanely than it could have, but really there are no surprises.
Overall, the movie was enjoyable, and it’s hard to fault it for anything in particular. Mostly, the problem is that Sam and Maggie lack chemistry. Most of the time, they don’t need it, but eventually, it becomes important. (It’s hard to imagine Broderick having “chemistry” with anyone.)
But even with everything this movie did right, it just doesn’t add up to greatness.
P.S. you might be glad to know the title song never played over the movie. Frankly, the title seems like an afterthought. But a rose by any other name . . . .