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click to enlarge Duchovny leaves his training wheels behind
  • Duchovny leaves his training wheels behind

*Return to Me (PG)
MGM

Well, life is made up of all kinds of coincidences, isn't it? You wake up in the morning, you think about elephants, then, on the morning news, there is a story about elephants and you think, "I'm telepathic!" Your best friend's face floats through your mind, and then she calls. A miracle! You spend the first three minutes of your phone conversation talking about how amazing it is that she called. The universe is smiling upon you.

So, why should screenwriters Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake think that it is too much of a coincidence to write the following: Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is madly in love with his wife, a talented and beautiful primatologist. When his wife dies suddenly in a car crash, Bob donates her heart to an anonymous recipient. The recipient is Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver). Grace works in an Irish Italian restaurant owned by her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor) and his brother in law. Duchovny happens to end up there one day and some miraculous force immediately attracts the two. They fall in love, but Grace can't bear to tell Bob about her heart transplant. Wow. Some coincidence. Makes those elephants seem downright tame.

Despite this silly premise, Return to Me really is a perfectly fine romantic comedy. In fact, it can be downright touching and funny in parts, in a conventional Hollywood kind of way. Both Duchovny and Driver have a good sense of comic timing, Carroll O'Connor mostly keeps his up his Irish accent, and the actors are aided by a sometimes clever script that delivers some funny surprises and some good tear-jerking moments.

Like a decent marriage in its middle years, Return to Me is mostly predictable and formulaic, and comforting in its solidity. Go see it with your sweetie on Saturday night if you need something more compelling to do than folding the laundry. Or stay at home and watch the Lottery results, if you'd like to see if coincidence is really on your side.

  • Despite a silly premise, Return to Me really is a perfectly fine romantic comedy.

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