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Scarecrow on Seattle: I LOVE YOU TO DEATH

In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with the Seattle Office of Film + Music' to bring you reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest with an emphasis on how these films showcase the region's many filmable locations.

I Love You to Death (1990)

Your appreciation of I Love You To Death will be directly proportional to your enjoyment of Kevin Kline and "hilarious" exaggerated Italian accents. Me, I've never been a Kline man and I tire of goofy accents after about 12 minutes, so I wasn't too into this Lawrence Kasdan joint from the get go. But it was shot in Tacoma (yay!), so it isn't all bad. The plot is loosely based on a true story that took place in Pennsylvania about a wife who made several unsuccessful attempts to kill her cheating husband and ended up spending four years in prison. What does cynical Hollywood do with a story like this? They turn it into a broad, forced screwball comedy with a happy ending, starring K.K. and his exaggerated vocal stylings.

Joey Boca (Kline) runs a successful pizzeria with his wife Rosalie (Tracey Ullman in a thankless role). In between making pies and hassling an employee named Devo (the late River Phoenix) about his handling of the restaurant's meatballs (or should I say "meat-a-balls") Joey schtupps pretty much every dame he can get his mitts on. His conquests include Victoria Jackson, Heather Graham, Kathleen York, and Phoebe Cates (aka the real-life Mrs. Kline). Eventually Rosalie clues in and hatches a plot to kill her philandering husband with the help of Devo, her mom (Joan Plowright), and a couple of stoner burn-outs (Keanu Reeves and William Hurt). Joey somehow survives despite eating multiple servings of poisoned spaghetti and getting shot in the head. Unlike real-life, the couple ends up reconciling after Rosalie spends a couple of days in jail and Joey gets tested for VD. (I made that last part up). You can tell the talents involved felt like they were mining comedy gold, but the film is severely lacking in the hilarity department. The uneven script is seriously void of funny punch lines and the cast scores very high on the Ham-o-Meter. There were several plot points that I just couldn't comprehend, most notably, the entire female species being hot for Joey.

I Love You To Death is nearly redeemed with its thorough use of our sister city to the south. Some of the T-Town highlights include Joey's pizzeria, located in the triangular Bostwick Building on Broadway near Antique Row. The storefront is now a Tully's. Other locations include the diner portion of Tower Lanes bowling alley, a sketchy trailer under the 11th Street Bridge, The Stadium High School Library, and Tacoma Avenue South, which offers views of the Tacoma Dome and the Port of Tacoma. A few local actors, like Johnny "Sugarbear" Willis and G. Valmont Thomas, show up in bit parts. By far the best place the filmmakers use is Bob's World Famous Jave Jive - Bob himself even makes a brief appearance behind the bar. My advice to everybody reading this is to skip the movie and head south to enjoy a cold one at Washington State's greatest teapot-shaped dive bar while you still can. You will not be disappointed.

-Spenser Hoyt

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