I Love You to Death (1990)

Genres - Comedy, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Crime Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 6, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Lawrence Kasdan and frequent collaborator Kevin Kline try their hand at black comedy with this amusing if unconvincing effort based on the true story of an Allentown, PA, pizzeria owner who attempted to have her philandering husband murdered. Kasdan peoples his project with top-notch cast members and the resulting performances are note-perfect, particularly Keanu Reeves and William Hurt as brain-dead, drug-addled "hit men." It's too bad, then, that the whole affair is faux zany, inflated with synthetically manufactured hot air and overblown to emphasize the tongue-in-cheek nature of turning a real-life near-tragedy into a slick Hollywood entertainment. Fargo (1995) would allegedly do the same thing and much better a few years later (though it isn't actually true that Fargo is reality-based, it certainly could have been). Maybe he was just in search of his next project with no good ideas of his own, but Kasdan is one of the most gifted screenwriters in show business, so why he'd choose to direct someone else's work (the film was penned by John Kostmayer) is a mystery. Whatever his reasons, Kasdan is a serious, introspective artist for whom black comedy seems not to be a specialty: if I Love You to Death didn't strain so hard to let its audience know it's supposed to be funny, it might have been hilarious.