After a string of failed romantic comedy movies and canceled dramatic TV shows, Katherine Heigl has changed direction with “Unforgettable.” She takes on the role of a Tessa, a woman scorned who is still so crazy about her ex-husband, David (Geoff Stults), that she terrorizes his new love, Julia (Rosario Dawson).
It’s a very different role for Heigl but the results are the same. “Unforgettable” is very forgettable.
Taking a plot and setting from 90 percent of the woman-in-peril films that are so popular on Lifetime, Julia moves from to a sleepy little town where everyone knows everyone to be with her fiance. David is living in the small town because he left a successful career in finance to start his own craft brewery.
When did it stop being fashionable to move to a small town just because it’s a better place to raise children? Now movie characters have to launch some hip enterprise. Did Floyd leave a job on Wall Street on “The Andy Griffith Show” move to Mayberry to open a fashion boutique?
Tessa wasn’t happy with the move but made the major change to keep her perfect family together. It’s perfect if you don’t count Tessa being in more hotel bedrooms than a Gideon Bible.
Writers Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson don’t take a chance the audience might not pick up that Tessa believes she’s perfect. As she sits – back so straight her spine doesn’t appear to have a curve – combing her hair bleached to the point it will make you snowblind, Tessa tells her daughter that with a touch of perfume she too can be perfect like her mother.
Begin the years of therapy now.
The two women in Geoff’s life clash as they deal with custody issues. Tessa, who has more white outfits than a Klan rally, is cold, cruel and vindictive. Julia, a colorful contrast to Tessa, is caring, concerned and a little dense. There are countless times during their encounters that Julia could end the conflict with a phone call or conversation with David.
Instead, she confides in her best friend and boss played by Whitney Cummings. The best friend is a contrivance of this genre but casting Cummings to be a sidekick is a waste of her comic talents.
Director Denise Di Novi makes a lot of these kind of mistakes. The first-time director can’t get Heigl to act in any scenes. Instead she allows her to just stare off blindly into space as if she were trying to decide if anyone noticed she passed gas.
And while Dawson gives it her best shot, the film keeps falling back into hackneyed dialogue, plot points older than the pyramids and a pacing that is so slow there’s time for a nap between dramatic pauses.
Had this film debuted on Lifetime, it would have still been a miss (and a mess). At least the cable movies have an air about them that no one thinks of the work as anything but the mindless fodder.
“Unforgettable” takes on a tone that tries to reach a “Fatal Attraction” in intensity. The bad acting and cheesy script never come close.
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Whitney Cummings, Cheryl Ladd, Isabella Kai Rice
Director: Denise Di Novi
Rated R (sexual content, partial nudity, violence, language)
Opens: Friday, April 21