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LOVE POTION NO. 9

title: LOVE POTION #9
year: 1992
cast: Tate Donovan, Sandra Bullock, Rebecca Staab, Anne Bancroft
rating: **

The premise is witty and engaging, as are the two main characters but only when they follow it. Both are nerdy, disassociated scientists played by Tate Donovan and his (at that time) real-life girlfriend Sandra Bullock, on the verge of being a big star. Donovan visits a gypsy, played by Anne Bancroft, who gives him a potion that makes the opposite sex wildly attracted to the subject’s voice. He and Bullock first test it on a monkey, and then venture off on their own to see who they can land. The eventual conclusion is predictable: both will fall for each other, but most of the film has Bullock attracting rich men, including the prince of England, while Donovan, after sowing his oats, realizes he’s fallen for her. With gap teeth and messy hair pre-transformation, Bullock relishes in either personality – although her switch from ugly to pretty means very little since, having used the potion, the men would be attracted to her either way. But this is Donovan’s venture (he narrates as well) and the two best scenes involve a gorgeous single’s bar girl, played by Rebecca Staab, first shooting him down and then practically raping him; Saab’s multilayered performance displays every emotion in six minutes time. But halfway through, when a con artist hooker coaxes our lead, and all his friends, to hand over their goods… And when the gypsy gives Donovan a complicated antidote to snare the soon-to-be married Bullock… What begins as a quirky rom-com ends up a jaded, uneven mess that even true love can’t fix. (And watch Rebecca Staab's awesome performance in two great scenes.)
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