Trial and Error | Chicago Reader

Trial and Error

This comedy-romance has a twist: instead of contriving situations that could take place almost anywhere, it really links its locations—a rustic hotel, breathtaking mountain vistas, desolate valleys—to the emotions of the characters. Director Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny) helps Michael Richards, as an erratically employed actor, and Jeff Daniels, as an ambitious lawyer, play down the cliched aspects of their roles and bring out the nuances. Physical comedy is well integrated into the story—a scene in a restroom uses in-your-face camera work, emphasizing strong choreography and potent acting—as Richards and Daniels are forced to exchange identities to try a case just before Daniels is supposed to get married. Some unexamined antimaterialism in Gregory and Sara Bernstein's script takes the form of antifeminine rhetoric—naturally it's Daniels's fiancee who's obsessed with china patterns, since even superficial men have better values than that. But this is a pretty nice experience, very funny in spots and consistently charming.

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