Readers of this blog will know that June 17, 2018 was a truly great day. It was both Father’s Day and Greg Kinnear’s 55th birthday!! In the most non-creepy way possible, I hope Greg had a wonderful double celebration with his family (he lives in LA with his wife and 3 daughters). To celebrate from afar (I’m sure next year I’ll be invited to his birthday bash), I held a Father’s Day Greg Kinnear Grand Double Feature! And by “held a FDGKGDF,” I mean I watched two GK movies with my wife over Father’s Day weekend.
For the first movie, I chose Invincible, a feel-good football story with GK as coach Dick Vermeil. He was inspired for this role by his dad’s focus and intensity, making this the perfect father’s day movie. For the second movie, I chose A Smile Like Yours, a romantic comedy about a couple trying to overcome infertility issues and have a baby. It’s set in San Francisco, and this is the perfect father’s day movie.
Both movies are 100 minutes long, which is the perfect movie length. (About this, there can be no debate! 100 minutes is all you need to tell a good story). Both are available to rent on Amazon and maybe On Demand. I’ll write on Invincible next, since I cannot contain my excitement over A Smile Like Yours! You can enjoy the trailer, then dig into this blog.
A Smile Like Yours (1997)
Directed by Keith Samples, A Smile Like Yours is the first great “bad GK movie” I’ve reviewed and I couldn’t be more excited! I had high hopes for Salvation Boulevard, but its convoluted script and uninspired acting made for a bad “bad GK movie.” In contrast, A Smile Like Yours has a bumpin’ soundtrack, a groan-worthy story, LOL moments, and overacting (bless you, Lauren Holly). Let’s dig deeper!
First, the soundtrack. While it’s inexplicably off Spotify, SFPL users can check it out via Hoopla. The soundtrack is filled with classics like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “My Girl,” Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” and Marvin Gaye’s “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.” The movie also features Greg Kinnear and Lauren Holly absolutely butchering “Love Will Keep Us Together” in a near-unwatchable karaoke performance. Best of all, the soundtrack introduces us to gems we never knew we wanted to hear. Like Natalie Cole’s “A Smile Like Yours” which carries the movie’s final five minutes and this truly amazing song “(You’re) Having My Baby.” Enjoy these tremendous tunes, especially the last one, as you keep reading.
Second, the story. In a (pea)nutshell, ASLY is a comedy making light of the infertility struggles of a married couple, Danny (Greg Kinnear) and Jennifer (Lauren Holly). The movie runs out of material after 1 hour, adds an infidelity subplot to extend the movie 30 minutes, and ends happily. This movie cover says it all:
She wants to elevate him to new heights of passion!! NSFW.
In a (coco)nutshell, Danny leads construction projects and Jennifer sells essential oils & homemade aphrodisiacs. They try to spice up their marriage by having sex in all the settings with all of Jennifer’s aphrodisiacs. This includes the construction site elevator in an absolutely ridiculous opening scene:
Construction site elevator magic! Photo credit: Paramount Pictures.
Danny’s approach is “if we get pregnant, great!” But Jennifer is baby-crazy; constantly taking pregnancy tests, preemptively building a nursery, and seeing fertility doctors. After she concludes she’s fertile, she takes some of Danny’s semen (without him knowing) and has it tested. Turns out he has lazy swimmers!
So…Jennifer and Danny see a fertility specialist (but she still doesn’t tell him she tested his swimmers) and start the process of IVF. This doesn’t work and after several tries, the couple decides to take a break. Then we get a contrived sub-plot where Jennifer has sold one of her aphrodisiacs for a pile of money to that guy you know from random movies, but doesn’t tell Danny because she thinks he’ll feel more manly if he pays for the treatments. Meanwhile, Danny takes a construction job in Seattle from a ‘leggy’ architect but is too embarrassed to tell his wife that his boss is an attractive female. Then Danny discovers Jennifer tested his swimmers in secret, they both think they’re cheating on each other, and the leggy architect actively tries to seduce Danny (but he resists). Then there’s a montage set to “A Smile Like Yours,” they get back together, decide to try to get pregnant the conventional way, and two years later have triplets. Which is confusing since triplets are more likely the non-conventional way.
San Francisco is prominently highlighted in the movie. There’s a scene at the SF airport. There’s a classic Golden Gate Bridge shot. Best of all, there are at least 3 shots of Jennifer riding the trolly to work from the suburbs. This is not possible, since the trolly is confined to the city and is purely for tourism and not for commuting.
Yet, once you set your expectations super low, ASLY is great and full of LOL moments. There’s the opening scene, where Danny’s coworkers watch while the couple gets it on in a construction site elevator. Later, Danny feels compelled to make light chit chat with another couple in the fertility clinic, only to have them dryly list off all their fertility struggles. You can watch it here, but Greg’s face in this still captures the moment well:
Gonorrhea in ’89, you say? Photo credit: Paramount Pictures.
There’s many more hilarious montages at the fertility clinic, including this one. And, of course, the last five minutes are truly extraordinary. Our happy couple once again gets it on at the construction site and the “best” lines of the movie are saved for this sequence.
There are so many epically bad lines we could explore, but let’s settle on this one and dive into the acting.
Danny: Promise me something.
Danny: When we finally have a baby, it’ll have a smile like yours.
Greg Kinnear Drinks Straight From the Bottle
First, a word on Lauren Holly. Y’all should remember her as Mary
Samsonite Swanson from Dumb & Dumber, Lloyd’s love interest. And, indeed, Lauren’s star shone brightest in the mid 90s. She was very respectable as Greg Kinnear’s fiancee in Sabrina, and my wife says she was solid as Linda Lee in the Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. She also married Jim Carrey for a year. But then her career took a nosedive, specifically in 1997 with leading roles in Turbulence (just watch that trailer) and ASLY. She was relegated to TV movies ever after.
Lauren’s Jennifer in ASLY is a sex-crazed, baby-crazed liar with the emotional maturity of a teenager. Not a very sympathetic role, and Lauren overacts every scene. It doesn’t help that she had the two worst scenes in the movie: one where she insists Danny speaks broken Chinese to pick up their dry cleaning and another where she obtains Danny’s semen for secret testing (don’t focus on the how). Oh Lauren, what could have been.
But our boy Greg is solid, even at less than his best. For the first half of the movie, he plays the guileless Danny who goes along with his wife’s every whim. This puts Greg-as-Danny in many uncomfortable situations, where he excels. No scene better captures this than when Jennifer drags Danny to karaoke. Greg’s “uncomfortable acting” is top-notch, in everything from drinking sake straight from the serving flask, to slouching back on stage as if he wishes he could disappear into the backdrop, to outwardly expressing embarrassment when Jennifer thinks “Love Will Keep Us Together” is Motown. And of course, he rocks this perfect GK smile for much of the scene.
Karaoke ain’t my thing, baby. Photo credit: Paramount Pictures.
“Uncomfortable Greg” is also on full display through almost every scene at the fertility clinic, and it’s a thing of beauty. “Drink straight from the bottle Greg” is also on display when he makes french toast and drinks straight from the milk jug.
Second-half GK isn’t as great, as his character arc shifts to discovering his wife’s lies but also trying to live a lie of his own by keeping secret that his boss is a ‘leggy architect.’ He doesn’t make any moves on his boss, so this arc is confusing and unnecessary. This Greg is not a smarmy Greg, and it’s not peak-performance Greg.
Yet all of this is forgiven in the final scene, when Greg is playing with his on-screen triplets. This scene is basically “Greg Kinnear makes funny faces at babies,” and it’s marvelous. For a ‘Father’s Day’ movie, you could say that this lone scene of parenting in ASLY is unsatisfactory, but you’d be wrong. It’s all I need.
- Happy 55th birthday, Greg Kinnear!!! I watched A Smile Like Yours and Invincible as part of an epic FDGKGDF (Father’s Day Greg Kinnear Grand Double Feature) in celebration of his June 17 birthday.
- ASLY is the first great “bad GK movie” we’ve watched! Its soundtrack is bumpin’, its writing is crazy bad, Lauren Holly overacts, and it’s all marvelous.
- Greg excelled as “uncomfortable Greg” in much of the movie’s first half, and was terrific again when making funny faces at babies at the end. Let’s just forget about his performance in the movie’s second half.
- Greg’s performance earns a midpoint ranking on our Kinnear Meter as we’ve seen better (Mystery Men, Brigsby Bear) and worse (Salvation Boulevard):
ASLY gets a pretty solid score, considering it’s GK’s third movie role.
- Next up: Invincible, aka part II of FDGKGDF! Enjoy the trailer here.
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