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See Nick and Jane Lay an Egg

In 1756, Voltaire wittily observed that "this agglomeration which...calls itself the Holy Roman Empire is neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire." Likewise, of Nick and Jane it might well be said that this abomination which calls itself a charming romantic comedy is neither charming, nor romantic, nor a comedy.

Since the film is destined to disappear from local screens, leaving no more than a residue of confusion and anger within the memories of those few unlucky enough to see it, we will--both for the record and as a caution to posterity, that it may learn from our errors--give a brief outline of the plot.

Jane (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, best known as the female lead in Fletch) is a workaholic businesswoman, one who barely has time to be romantic with her longtime boyfriend, John (John Dossett), who works in the same office. Nick (James McCaffrey) is an artist/cabdriver who lives a down-and-out existence with his kooky Japanese-American roommate, Enzo (Gedde Watanabe).

When Jane's irritating best friend, Vicki (Lisa Gay Hamilton), suggests that she romantically "surprise" John one day, Jane discovers him in bed with fellow worker Stephanie (Saundra Santiago). Distraught, she runs out of the apartment and hails a cab driven by--you're never gonna predict this one--Nick.

Yup! He's an artist! She's an exec! He's free-spirited! She's uptight! He's working-class! She's...something else! What a perfect mismatch! Romantic sparks are sure to fly! Lots of exclamation points are inevitable!

Actually, at first, no sparks--romantic or otherwise--appear, but Nick is at least passively interested. Then, one night, through an unexplained mechanism of coincidence, Nick, Jane, John, Vicki, Stephanie, Enzo and every other major character in the story converge on the same club. In order to show up John, Jane and Vicki pretend that Nick is Jane's new love interest--needlessly introducing him as an executive at Intermedia Corp. Nick, quick on the uptake, plays along.

The masquerade escalates and, in another shocking development, Nick and Jane actually fall for each other. (Man! Where do these wacky screenwriters get their ideas?)

Apparently, first-time writer/director Rich Mauro got the idea from real life: Hired to impersonate the boyfriend of a friend of a friend, Rich and his faux sweetie fell in love. I'm sure the whole thing was riotously funny at the time, but, well...maybe you just had to be there.

Wheeler-Nicholson (done up for no particular reason to resemble Melanie Griffith) and the rest of the cast don't bring much to the party. George Coe--who had the briefest stint in history in the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players--flies through a few scenes without destroying his reputation, and David Johansen mugs mercilessly as his gay son. Watanabe--who plays a bad musician with a foot fetish--must be looking back nostalgically to the days when he got such relatively dignified roles as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.

The script gives the leads no signs of charm or likability but lets us know that they must be cool because they both have best friends from racial minorities and both hang out with gay men. That's about as daring as the film ever gets. Meanwhile, Mauro treats us to endless, sluggish exposition.

To be fair, the film looks pretty good for its $400,000 budget. The cinematography and editing are competent--but nothing else is.

Nick and Jane.
Written by Rich Mauro, Peter Quigley and Neil W. Alumkal. Directed by Rich Mauro. With Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, James McCaffrey, David Johansen, Gedde Watanabe, John Dossett, Lisa Gay Hamilton and George Coe.

 
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