Year of the Comet Review

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A female wine taster (Miller) is sent to Scotland to evaluate a collection and while on the job meets a representative for a buyer (Daly). They instantly spar off each other before, in that traditional Hollywood way, becoming a smitten couple. But that's not all, they must also find a bottle of immortality that the film's villain has carelessly left lying around.


This is the first original, as opposed to adapted, screenplay written by ace wordsmith William Goldman since Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, and it's hard not to feel from its unfashionable tone that it's been lying around on a shelf quietly gathering dust since shortly after the release of that career-making Western in 1969. With its cosmopolitan locations (a Scots isle, the Riviera), bickering romantic leads (imagine Doris and Rock) and comedy-caper plotting (remember Hudson Hawk?), it seems to have been intended as one of those late 60s glossies (there's even a psychedelic trip sequence) but been abandoned until Peter Yates, in his own career quandary, hit upon the project.

Penelope Ann Miller is a repressed wine expert sent to Scotland to evaluate a cellar which turns out to contain a vintage bottled in the eponymous year of the comet. Tim Daly, the one in Diner who didn't become a star, is a troubleshooter for the bottle's would-be purchaser (Shane "Scott Tracy" Rimmer), who irritates the girl but eventually wins her. Louis Jourdan is also around as a suave baddie whose immortality formula has been hidden under the label of the bottle.

People try to steal the wine from each other, and Miller and Daly get to crash helicopters, scale walls, struggle underwater, trade quips and do motorcycle stunts as they try to get back the goods. With a script that has turned to vinegar in the bottle, nobody could have pulled off the lead roles. Faced with running jokes about chiropractors, Miller and Daly simply copy mannerisms from Tom Selleck in his moustache period and Shelley Long in early Cheers mode, a tactic which even Selleck and Long were even dissuaded from pursuing. Rent Hudson Hawk instead, at least thatwas a heroic failure.

On paper this could have been an action romance in the vein of Romancing the Stone, but as it turns out, it comes nowhere close. With poor dialogue, poor acting, a lack of chemistry between the leads and a ridiculous plot, Year of the Comet, isn't even an enjoyable way to spend an hour-and-a-half of your time.