Astrologer Matthew Broderick follows his ex-girlfriend to New York where he plots revenge alongside Meg Ryan's punky artist.
Interestingly, it is Matthew Broderick who plays the cute, sweet half of this "romantic" revenge comedy while Meg Ryan acts tough, cynical and athletic as a pin-thin punky artist and catburgling avenger - kind of like Edie Sedgwick crossed with Catwoman - whose scorned woman's fury reaches gale force ten.
Broderick is smalltown astronomer Sam, who becomes unhinged when his childhood sweetheart Linda (Preston, a.k.a. Mrs. John Travolta, enjoying a career boost of her own) sends him a Dear John letter from New York via her father in one of the film's gentler and more amusing jokes. After tracking Linda down and discovering she's shacked up with Eurotrash restaurateur Anton (Karyo), Sam squats in the derelict building conveniently opposite. He's soon joined there by Anton's ex-fiancee Maggie (Ryan), and the dumped duo embark on an extraordinarily well-equipped and malevolent surveillance and sabotage operation. Maggie is armed with state of the art electronics and a bag of tricks that include water-pistols, a monkey and rotten strawberries. Sam wants Linda back, Maggie wants Anton ruined and, with luck, maimed.
Actor-producer turned director Dunne makes neat and ingenious use of sequences of Sam's camera obscura device, which brings vivid images of cosy Linda and Anton and their rampant couplings right into the appalled Sam's and enraged Maggie's cockroach-infested lair.
An edgier and far more neurotic comedy than one expects from these commercial American folk, it's actually unsettling in its sadistic and masochistic team enterprise, particularly as sympathy mounts for the hapless victims of Maggie's rage. Much like real life, in truth, Linda and Anton are not dreadful people who deserve what they get, simply folk who fell out of love with their partners. Perversely, of course, the amusement also escalates the crueller the obsessive duo's antics become. However, Ryan and Broderick, while individually first-rate, don't combine as sexily as they ought, making the inevitable outcome a little too pat in an otherwise genre-bucking affair.
Never quite carries off its sweet and sour balancing act.