Title: Return To Me
Fix: Romantic Comedy, “Heart”felt Drama, David Duchovny, Cute Grandpas, Chicago
Platform: Amazon Prime
A lonely Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is embraced by Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver), who is surrounded by a coterie of substitute mothers including her Irish grandfather, who with his Italian brother-in-law run a Chicago restaurant. Although Bob and Grace are strangers at the start of the story, their lives are forever intertwined by fate.
It’s been a year since the tragic death of his beloved wife, but Bob isn’t quite ready to date yet. It’s been a year since Grace finally got the heart transplant she needed to survive, and she’s still a little self-conscious about her scar so she makes sure to keep it covered. (You probably see where this is going.) When Bob finds himself at Grace’s family restaurant on a terrible blind date, the two can’t help but feel like…they know each other somehow. And when fate keeps bringing them back together, they can’t resist the strange pull they feel toward one another. Things get about as complicated as you might imagine.
Also there is an EXTREMELY cute dog and a group of poker-playing, Rat Pack-listening, Irish/Italian restaurant-owning grandpas in this movie as if all the other rom-com tropes weren’t cute enough for you.
David Duchovny as Bob
This movie came out at the *height* of my David Duchovny/The X-Files obsession, so I can assure you if David’s attempt at becoming a romantic comedy leading man failed, it wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm on my part.
Minnie Driver as Grace
I love Minnie Driver, and I wish I could say the role of Grace is “quintessential Minnie Driver” but it’s actually just “quintessential rom-com leading lady” and, like, that’s okay! But Minnie certainly adds her own brand of awkward charm to the character.
Carroll O’Connor as Marty
Okay, I’m ashamed to admit that I had to Google Carroll O’Connor. I knew that his face was familiar, but I did NOT realize he played Archie Bunker in All In The Family. MY BAD GUYS that show is old. Anyway, he plays Grace’s Irish grandfather Marty O’Reily, who owns an Italian-slash-Irish restaurant with his brother-in-law Angelo. Marty is both adorably over-protective of his grandaughter, and also constantly trying to set her up with any guy he can.
Bonnie Hunt as Megan
While Minnie Driver might be playing “quintessential rom-com leading lady”, Bonnie Hunt is playing “quintessenial Bonnie Hunt.” Megan is hilariously sardonic, constantly juggling her one million children, wrangling her good-for-nuthin’ husband, and dealing out straight-shooting life advice to Grace. But every time Megan could be a nag, Bonnie manages to make her hilarious and relatable.
Jim Belushi as Joe
If Bonnie plays the classic, over-worked, jaded best friend of the dreamy leading lady, Jim plays the classic, over-worked, jaded best friend’s useless yet lovable loaf of a husband. You know the type and Jim Belushi was born to play it.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Return To Me in 90 Minutes
Here’s the thing: this isn’t just a 90’s rom-com (okay, maybe it came out in 2000 but it was *shot* in the 90’s so I’m considering it a 90’s rom-com), which in and of itself calls for some premium binge-by-yourself time. This is a rom-com that’s also probably gonna make you cry. Literally, my husband just walked into the room and found me crying on the couch and was super confused because he’d only left me alone for 20 minutes and that’s EXACTLY HOW MUCH TIME it takes this movie to make you cry. So kick out your spouse, significant other, roommate, random family members, et al., pour yourself a generous glass of wine, get out a jar of peanut butter and exactly one spoon, put on some soft-pants and lean in to the next 90 minutes with all you’ve got.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Italian Wine or Irish Whiskey, Take Your Pick
Do you have to be drunk to watch this movie? Of course not! Does a little booze help to ease the occasional cringe of a rom-com that insists on shoe-horning every single genre cliche it can into one film? Of course not! But when given the option to drink or not to drink, the only decision I need to make is whether to have wine or whiskey.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Rom-Commoisseur
The late 90s was the height of romantic comedy cinema. If you were an actress between the ages of 25 and 40, it was practically mandatory that you star in at least two rom-coms of questionable quality. And while the J-Los and Meg Ryans of the world may get all the recognition, Return To Me is a bit of a deep cut. If you truly want to be an expert on the genre, be sure to watch this one because it will not disappoint. I don’t think I’d seen it since college, and I’m so pleased that it holds up pretty well. I laughed! I cried! I cried again! I remembered a lot of super quotable lines! That’s amore!