The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"UNFORGETTABLE"

Unforgettable

Unforgettable feels like it time-warped in from 1992. It easily would have been one of the worst pictures of that year, and it's definitely one of the worst of this year, too. The movie looks and plays exactly like those lurid-but-cheap potboilers Disney used to release under its Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures labels. Stuff like the Goldie Hawn thriller Deceived, the Don Johnson/Rebecca DeMornay sex-and-law flick Guilty as Sin, and the Kevin Spacey spouse-swapping drama Consenting Adults. Everything seems calculated to be edgy, but not too edgy, and every note in the “psycho from Hell” playbook is dutifully hit right on cue. How something like this gets released in 2017 is a riddle.

Rosario Dawson plays Julia Banks, a woman who moves in with her fiancee David (Geoff Stults) and his young daughter Lily (Isabella Kai Rice). This doesn't sit well with David's ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl). Of course, she is a tightly-wound, anal-retentive shrew who can't stand seeing another woman loving her man, parenting her daughter, or living in her home. Tessa sets out to make life miserable for Julia -- subtly at first, but then in increasingly more dangerous ways, including one that involves an abusive ex-boyfriend.

Again, Unforgettable would have seemed pathetically cliched twenty-five years ago. It takes about ten minutes for screenwriter Christina Hodson (Shut In) to set up the basic premise. Then you realize that you already know every single thing that's going to happen for the next hour-and-a-half. There are no surprises, no moments when the movie veers from the formula. Unforgettable has an almost robotic quality to it, so devoid is the plot of anything other than strict adherence to an ancient playbook.

It doesn't help that the actors aren't all on the same page. Dawson and Stults appear to be making a serious drama about jealousy and violence. Heigl, on the other hand, camps it up, as though she knows the material is outdated garbage and wants to put a tongue-in-cheek spin on it. Cheryl Ladd (admittedly an inspired choice to play Tessa's equally insane mother) does the same. Their way is the more appropriate of the two. Since the approaches don't mesh, the film is annoyingly disjointed.

There have been some good “psycho from Hell” thrillers. Single White Female is a great example, as is Fatal Attraction. They're on the upper end of the scale. Those on the lower end – and Unforgettable is on the much lower end – frequently have the problem of painting themselves into corners. In their desperation to provide an exciting final confrontation, they conveniently ignore things that, from a character standpoint, really need to be addressed. A big loose end exists in Unforgettable, as the story completely bypasses looking at how Lily is affected by the things that have happened around her. Emotional dishonesty of this magnitude is aggravating. The movie wants us to care about these people, without actually having to deal with their problems beyond a surface level.

Unforgettable is not an apt title. The movie is very forgettable. Also dull, predictable, unintentionally funny, and sloppily-made. It's a bad drama about the difficulty of adjusting after a divorce. It's a bad thriller about a crazy ex-wife. It's just bad all the way around. Can't someone come up with a better project for these two likable actresses that doesn't involve them fighting over ownership of a man?

( out of four)


Unforgettable is rated R for sexual content, violence, some language, and brief partial nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.


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