Cross My Heart (1987)

Cross My Heart (1987)

Taglines: A comedy you can still respect in the morning.

Cross My Heart” begins with Martin Short and Annette O’Toole preparing themselves for going out together on a third date, an experience they both apparently equate with being locked in a small room with hungry rats. It’s not that they don’t like each other. On the contrary, they both feel they may actually be falling in love, and that the other person may be Right for them. That’s the problem: Both Short and O’Toole have told so many lies on the first two dates that they don’t see how they can start telling the truth now.

Short has claimed he is about to be appointed regional sales manager of his firm, which sells sunglasses. In fact, he has just been fired. O’Toole has neglected to reveal that she smokes and has a 7-year-old daughter. Desperate to impress, Short picks up O’Toole in a car that is not his own and tries to lure her back to a garishly stylish apartment, also not his own. The entire evening is a fragile construction of lies that threatens to come crashing down at any moment.

Cross My Heart is an American romantic comedy that was released in the United States on November 13, 1987. It stars Annette O’Toole, Martin Short, Paul Reiser, Joanna Kerns, Jessica Puscas, Lee Arenberg, Corinne Bohrer, Shelley Taylor Morgan and Patty Regan.

Cross My Heart (1987)

Cross My Heart: A Date in Detail

If a date were a thing that could be examined under a microscope, then ”Cross My Heart” offers some idea of what it might look like, warts and all. The entire film concentrates on the all-important third encounter between David (Martin Short) and Kathy (Annette O’Toole), an event that the film deems critical for several reasons.

IF a date were a thing that could be examined under a microscope, then ”Cross My Heart” offers some idea of what it might look like, warts and all. The entire film concentrates on the all-important third encounter between David (Martin Short) and Kathy (Annette O’Toole), an event that the film deems critical for several reasons. David and Kathy, who are thirty-ish, liked each other a lot on their first two dates. Each of them is very eager, and very nervous. Each has a few key biographical facts he or she would rather keep under wraps. And the third date, by this film’s reckoning, is the one on which it’s obligatory to go to bed.

So ”Cross My Heart,” which opens today at the Manhattan Twin and other theaters, has a good-natured premise and a degree of novelty, thanks to a pace that presents the date in something approximating real time. The entire evening unfolds in its every detail. The two participants are seen deciding what to wear, and discussing their trepidations with their respective seconds (Paul Reiser, who was so funny as the cautious, nit-picking member of the ”Diner” crowd, and Joanna Kerns); later on, the film follows everything from what they order for dinner to the elaborate bargaining process that precedes their sexual encounter.

Cross My Heart (1987)

As directed and co-written (with Gail Parent) by Armyan Bernstein, ”Cross My Heart” aspires to both comedy and candor. It finds the former in amusing intercutting between David and Kathy (especially in the extended prologue), and in juxtaposing things like Kathy’s desire for a stable breadwinner with the fact that David has just been dismissed that very morning.

And funny things do happen, as when David borrows his friend’s apartment and then has to worry about what’s in it, or when he hands his friend’s car keys over to a total stranger, who he mistakenly thinks has something to do with valet parking. But later on, when the small talk reaches the AIDS-and-condoms level and the new lovers argue ad nauseam about commitment, the film bogs down. ”Cross My Heart” starts well and then grows more and more ordinary, largely because it has been designed as a feature-length film in the first place. This material, however promising, would be better suited to an extended skit.

It’s also true that the film’s insistence on frankness eventually brings it a nagging, droning quality all too reminiscent of real-life evenings that go on too long. Fortunately, Martin Short makes a delightful leading man even when there’s little for him to do. Mr. Short is equally at home with the screenplay’s jokey and realistic aspects, and for a comic actor he’s unusually comfortable with a romantic role.

Miss O’Toole is less funny, as is her role; Kathy turns out to be a woman with a past (and a small daughter to prove it), and a penchant for reading magazine pop-psychology quizzes out loud. Miss O’Toole more or less plays straight man, but she has both the voluptuousness and the air of worry that her role requires.

Cross My Heart Movie Poster (1987)

Cross My Heart (1987)

Directed by: Armyan Bernstein
Starring: Martin Short, Annette O’Toole, Paul Reiser, Joanna Kerns, Jessica Puscas, Lee Arenberg, Corinne Bohrer, Shelley Taylor Morgan, Patty Regan
Screenplay by: Armyan Bernstein, Gail Parent
Production Design by: Lawrence G. Paull
Cinematography by: Thomas Del Ruth
Film Editing by: Mia Goldman
Costume Design by: Marilyn Vance
Set Decoration by: Bruce A. Gibeson
Music by: Bruce Broughton
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: November 13, 1987