Courtesy Photo
Directed by Griffin Dunne

Starring Meg Ryan, Matthew Broderick, Kelly Preston & Tcheky Karyo.

"Addicted to Love"

Opened: May 23, 1997 | Rated: PG-13

OK, so when you look at it closely "Addicted to Love" is a romantic comedy about stalkers. In real life, not a very funny topic.

But as presented by first-time director, long-time quirky-movie actor Griffin Dunne ("After Hours," "Search and Destroy"), obsession is darkly funny stuff.

"Addicted" opens with an idealic scene between childhood sweethearts Sam (Matthew Broderick) and Linda (Kelly Preston), small town lovers who are content and cutesy-poo in their sugary affection.

But when Linda, a school teacher, takes a job in New York she meets Anton (Tcheky Karyo), a oily French restaurateur who sweeps this unsophisticated girl off her feet, inspiring a Dear John letter to poor Sam (hilariously read to him by Linda's father).

Sam takes a sabbatical from his job as an astronomer and sets up shop in an abandon building across the street from Anton's apartment. He borrows a camera obsucra from his observatory, which, aimed across the street, projects a life-size image of everything going on in Anton's flat.

Enter Maggie (Meg Ryan, cast wonderfully against type), Anton's bitter and vengeance-minded ex -- she was thrown over for Linda. Now you see what's coming.

A reluctant partnership forms between the jilted conspirators, who plot the break-up of the giddy couple across the way. They scheme, they watch their victims' projected images and throw food at the screen, and they cap on each other's tastes in lovers.

"That girl of yours is a carnival ride," Maggie tells Sam while listening to the lovers have sex with high tech spy equipment she set up.

Originally Sam, a romantic wimp, just wants Linda back and is complacent with observing, looking for signs of dissatisfaction (he has charts and graphs of their daily activity). But Maggie wants Anton ruined, and after hearing his sweetheart have wild sex, she has Sam in the palm of her hand.

Much high jinks follows, mostly involving terrible things happening to Anton while Sam and Maggie frame him as a philanderer. The conspirators fight it, but of course, they eventually to fall for each other.

Predictable? Sure. It's a romantic comedy. But Dunne's very original execution takes this romance into some fresh, albeit murky, comedic waters.

Sam and Maggie pay kids in a park to put perfume in their squirt guns and attack Anton. They plant roaches in his restaurant the night a famous critic comes to dine. These folks are mean. If you've ever been jilted there is plenty of guilty satisfaction to be had here.

As a romantic comedy, "Addicted to Love" doesn't measure up to genre masterworks like "When Harry Met Sally." Look closely and the movie has its poorly stitched seams and too-easy conclusions. But with its wicked sense of humor and reliable performers, this is a surprisingly fun movie about people in great need of therapy.

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