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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Two Hanky Movie

Return to Me on IMDb

Plot Overview

fund raiser

happy hughard hatted workersZoologist Dr. Elizabeth Rueland (Joely Richard­son,) large mammal curator of Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, is giving a fund raiser speech at a black tie affair. The camera switches to hospital­ized Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) long awaiting a heart trans­plant. There's a rain storm raging out­side her window making driving unsafe. Mention was made earlier to Elizabeth's architect husband Bob (David Duchovny) about him having got his suit pants wet in the storm (“It's pouring out”) while walking their dog. The hot line rings at the Irish restaurant where Grace's family and friends are working the evening crowd. That means Grace has (finally) got a heart. Bob arrives home alone with a bandaged arm and blood speckling his dress shirt. He sadly tells their moping dog Mel, “She's not coming home.” The movie has thus set these parallel tracks in the identical time zone and within the same storm system. Duh.

candlesprayingAt the hospital Grace's grand­father Marty O'Reilly (Carroll O'Connor) goes to the chapel and does some serious praying to Michael the arch­angel. All along he has “prayed that Gracie would have a second chance at life. I always knew that if God blessed us, the heart she got would have to be from a very special person if it were going to be at home in Grace.” Yeah, okay. We get to hear heavenly instru­ments during the heli­copter shots of Gracie's urban flower garden and see wind ruffling the curtains of her house. Angels are to account for an unusual amount of coincidences to come.

good shepherdloversThe angels have to be discriminating on where to assign which heart just as doctors have to discriminate medically. The patient does fine, so that's not the issue here. Rather, for the sake of a watch­able movie it is a social discrimination commen­surate with Noah's pronouncements—as I've reviewed from other movies—rather than MLK's inter­pre­tation of Thomas Jeffer­son's declaration. At the fund raiser seeking to expand the primate habitat, Dr. Rueland displays a photo of her husband standing next to the affected ape and quips, “Here he is with my husband. … My husband's the one on the right.” That gets a laugh. How­ever, earlier Elizabeth had visited gorilla Sidney in his cage calling him “friend.” Liz's colleague Super­vising Veterinarian Dr. Charles Johnson (David Alan Grier,) calls Sidney “brother.” We get a profile shot of the three of them: hefty Sidney in his black simian skin, frail pale­face Elizabeth speaking falsetto, and Charlie a strapping black man with negroid features.

harlotFrom Charlie's stable of girls who visit his veterinary practice, he chooses a white one for a date to the fund raiser. Her evening dress is sleazy, her dancing sinuous, and her makeup over­done. A white woman who would date a Negro is here depicted as an unsuitable heart match for Gracie.

leprechaunA year after his tragic loss Bob removes his wedding ring and goes on a blind, double date with: Charlie, Charlie's white date, and Bob's date set up by Charlie. They coinci­dentally go to O'Reilly's Irish restaurant where Bob meets waitress Rosie. His date is the pits so he leaves, she was not to his taste. But Rosie was as were all her Irish friends and family very welcoming.

Eventually Charlie has a man-to-man talk with Bob. He notes that Rosie has been cooking dinner for him with­out him spending the night with her. That means he is being “manipulated.” In a jump-ahead closing scene, we see the upshot of sexual manipu­lation. Black Charlie is dancing with one of his white babes, both wearing wedding rings now, and he's cradling a one-year-old white child in his arm. While Charlie was spreading his jungle love around, his babes were, too, and one of them got in the family way and persuaded Charlie to marry her. Okay, whatever.


It's up for grabs how this romantic adventure will turn out for the lead couple, but that's nothing new. (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” The writer of this proverb juxtaposed three hard-to-track move­ments with romantic intrigues: a soaring eagle, a slithering snake, and a tossed-about ship. RtM employs similar images to prepare the viewer for the unanticipated course of love. “The way of an eagle in the air” corresponds to the architect viewing the city with his date from a tall building of his own design. “We can see all this because we're standing in some­thing you built,” she says. And man's technology made possible organ trans­plants with awesome results.

“The way of a serpent upon a rock” corresponds to a nun's winding bicycle ride in Tuscany. The sister is seen riding high atop the handle bars while a-whole-nother person seated behind her is pumping the pedals. Seems to be a metaphor for a one-person frame accommodating two.

mailing material“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds to the dog shaking off the drenching he got from the rain­storm. Bob has to shake off his attachment to his deceased wife (“You gotta snap out of it, buddy”) before he can move on. And Gracie has to mail an anonymous thank you letter and then move on herself.

Production Values

” (2000) was directed by Bonnie Hunt who co-wrote the screenplay with Don Lake and Andrew Stern. She also played the part of Rosie's sister Megan. Family members played various other parts as well. It stars David Duchovny, Minnie Driver and Carroll O'Connor. Duchovny and Driver played love­birds neither having had a broad range of experience with the opposite sex—one for having early married his child­hood sweet­heart for life and the other for being laid up sick since adolescence until she got a new heart—so they are less cultivated in boy-girl relations than are other on-screen couples but are quite suitable for this PG film. David Alan Grier, a dashing black man, makes up for it playing a Lothario vet in an animal kingdom.

MPAA rated it PG for language and thematic elements. A large chunk of humor came from a man under pressure trying (unsuc­cess­fully) to avoid teaching his children to swear. The cast did a swell job, the closeups were pristine, and the plot was up to par. Runtime is 1 hour 55 minutes.

Medical discussion consisted of one thermometer reading of 98.6°. Anecdotally, the heart has ganglia of nerves rivalling the brain itself, and all that electrical energy doesn't stop at the skin. Some­times the trans­plant recipient finds her­self liking things the donor would.

horn playingThe music in this film is to die for. We had band music led by showman Joey Gian and performed on saxes, horns, bass, and drum. Note­worthy was his swinging arrangement of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” He and Dean Martin at different times rendered the theme song, “Return to Me.” Many of the great crooners were represented in songs for the white dudes gathered together. There wasn't any rock 'n' roll. Charlie, though, with his mixed race crowd is shown else­where in some dive grooving to soul music.

Play ballcard playersTo save itself from being an unadulterated chick flick, this film included poker playing, a bowling match, and argument about baseball greats.

No animals were harmed in making this movie. A definitive animal hierarchy is developed. Bob coaxing the expectant dog away from the door offers him food in the kitchen, but he won't come. He asks the mutt, “Why can't you eat your food in the kitchen like a normal person?” He'll eat it half­way there. So the dog is half human. The ape is more than half for having mastered sign language. The kids are miscreants for swearing. A cat is a step below a dog for the hellish date being a cat person. Charlie for having brung her is but a step up the monkey bars from the chest-pounding ape. The Irish are altogether human in their musical and cullinary tastes, and they look up to the idealized white women for whom they open the door. The bossy floozie, however, gets short shrift in their restaurant. The nuns are holy in their habits living in sister­hood a life of prayer. The blessed Virgin rates candles. The ex-priest missing the life still wears his clerical collar at times. Chickens are live­stock for the vet being tired of them. They're also on the menu and so is bacon.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

A large contingent of praying Catholics in the states and happy nuns in Tuscany make this a Christian-friendly movie. The swearing gets rebuked. The angels come through. People are rightly grateful. The playboy gets married. And an ex-priest misses his vocation.

This is a marvelous chick flick with ancillary material to interest the guys. There was music, debate, humor, and bowling. The hellish date hits close to home, but it is soon over.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Predictable. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.