Love Potion No. 9 (1992) / Comedy-Romance
aka Love Potion #9
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual humor and language
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Tate Donovan, Sandra Bullock, Dale Midkiff, Anne Bancroft, Mary Mara, Dylan Baker, Hillary Bailey Smith, Bruce McCarty, Rebecca Staab, Adrian Paul, Lisa Guerrero (Lisa Coles)
Director: Dale Launer
Screenplay: Dale Launer
Review published December 23, 2004
Love Potion No. 9 is notable for being the first romantic comedy in quite a career full of them for Sandra Bullock (While You Were Sleeping, The Net), although this particular one came and went without much notice. Written and directed by Dale Launer, who had been the screenwriter for some pretty good comedies, such as My Cousin Vinny, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Ruthless People, this would be his first and last attempt at directing (also his last screenplay). Launer based the premise of the film on the lyrics to the classic song of the same name by The Clovers, which is a strange form of inspiration for a film, but in its own limited, predictable fashion, it works as a pleasant and occasionally funny comic diversion.
Tate Donovan (Memphis Belle, Holy Matrimony) stars as Paul, a nerdy biochemist who seems to not be able to relate to the modern woman, as his lack of a dating life would attest to. After much urging by his buddies, Paul consults Madame Ruth (Bancroft, Malice), a medium to tell him his future in love, and seeing that he might be a lost cause if left to his own devices, she gives him a sample of something called "Love Potion No. 8". One taste will make him irresistible to any woman who hears his voice for up to four hours. He is skeptical at first, but after seeing it work for his cat, he decides to go in on an experiment with his geeky lady friend, Diane (Bullock), to test out just how well it works for two people who have always been unlucky in love up to that point. You know what they say about being careful what you wish for...
I won't go so far out on a limb by calling Love Potion No. 9 to be a great film, but for someone into light, romantic comedies, I'd say this one is successful for some no-hassle entertainment. Although a bit early in her career, Sandra Bullock shows much of the same appeal here she would in her later, more financially successful comedies, in the first of her "ugly duckling turns beautiful swan" roles (see Miss Congeniality). Donovan and Bullock work well together, having a natural chemistry of their own that would spill over off-screen (they were engaged for a time sometime after making this film).
It's cute, it's funny, and entertaining in the most modest of fashions, so if you're a fan of Bullock, or just silly romantic comedies in general, keep your expectations reasonably low and enjoy this clever and amusing diversion.
©2004 Vince Leo