Directed by Scott Winant

Starring Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Jessica Parker & Jennifer Aniston.

This film is on the Worst of 1997 list.

"'Til There Was You"

Opened: May 30, 1997 | Rated: PG-13

I never thought much of "Sleepless in Seattle," a romantic comedy in which the starring couple didn't meet until the last scene. But then I saw "'Til There Was You."

As listless as "Sleepless" was to me (and I realize I'm in the minority in that opinion), at least the two leads destined for each other were entertaining enough to carry their own storylines through the first two acts. Not like the sorry sods Jeanne Tripplehorn ("Waterworld") and Dylan McDermott ("Home for the Holidays") play in this picture.

Coincidence, not destiny, seems to drive "'Til There Was You." Gwen (Tripplehorn), a neurotic, sad sack, professional ghost writer frustrated in her search for Mr. Right, uneventfully crosses paths with Nick (McDermott), her intended, once in childhood and once in college. Neither near-meeting has even a hint of spark.

In the course of the film, which takes place in Los Angeles, they move in similar orbits around a sassy former child star (Sarah Jessica Parker) -- Gwen is writing her autobiography, Nick is sleeping with her -- and around Gwen's historic apartment building, which Nick, an architect, is planning to tear down to build condos or something. But, again, they don't meet.

In a good movie this would be an amusing irony, but "'Til There Was You" has no sense of that. In fact, it is so poorly executed that if you didn't know going in that these two were supposed to meet, you'd never figure out what the movie is about.

What's worse, Gwen and Nick aren't remotely interesting enough to justify making a movie about either of them. Parker's 12-stepping recovering brat, all attitude and cleavage, easily steals ever scene she's in by virtue of being the only person on the screen worth paying attention to.

Plagued by freshman filmmaking (director Scott Winant and writer Winnie Holzman are both rookies), cheap production values and piano poignancy, "'Til There Was You" looks and feels like the final project of a film student who is about to get an "F."

Gwen's attempts to save her apartment building -- with its painfully obvious sound stage courtyard, its crew of cliche neighbors and its constant, fluttering downpour of rose petals -- take center stage in the last half of the movie, proving even the director lost interest in the lackluster love story.

I'm guessing this movie was supposed to be about two people becoming emotionally ready to find each other. But by the time Gwen and Nick finally meet, roughly 60 seconds before the credits roll, I couldn't possibly have cared less. I was just relieved that it was time to head for the exit.

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