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Mr. Wonderful Review

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An electrician finds himself getting poorer by the day, due to his alimony payments to his ex-wife, who unknown to him is using them to fund her studies. Anxious to keep hold of his money, he tries to arrange for her to meet several potential suitors to let him off the hook.

★★★★

After his pleasingly goofy turn in Singles, Matt Dillon took an even deeper plunge into romantic comedy and made an engaging leading man in Anthony Minghella's follow-up to Truly Madly Deeply.

A financially stretched electrical power company worker in Brooklyn who's so desperate to rid himself of alimony payments that he determines to find a new husband for his ex-wife, Dillon's Gus is abetted by his girlfriend (Parker) and encouraged by his co-workers (including Dan Hedaya) with whom he shares the dream of buying a bowling alley. But ex-wife Lee (Sciorra) is putting herself through university with her alimony, and is too embroiled with married professor Hurt to muster much enthusiasm for the dates Gus digs up.

It's a cute idea, amiably executed, with a strong ensemble (Hurt is particularly amusing as the nauseating two-timer who parades his cultivation bearing croissants, poetry and Shakespeare on video to the touchingly admiring Sciorra). But Minghella's ambitious intention of embracing real people with believable hopes, dreams and resentments puts the film in uneasy territory. As romantic comedy it's flimsy, light on good laughs and dependent on a female lead who even the reliable Sciorra has difficulty in making warm. And while it is plausible that everyone here cannot have what or whom they want, and not everyone deserves what they get, this sits unhappily alongside the only-in-the-movies romantic denouement to which all must defer.

Sweet and largely unsentimental, this has most appeal for people who like romance grounded in realism, but it will only lightly mollify those looking for a joke-riddled, "if only" affair like, say, Sleepless In Seattle.

An enjoyable romantic comedy, It doesn't loose itself in fantasy land, remaining grounded and realistic. Damon shows his leading man capabilities while Minghella keeps the romance as vital as ever.

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