Picks and Pans Review: The Favor

updated 05/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Harley Jane Kozak, Elizabeth McGovern, Bill Pullman, Brad Pitt, Ken Wahl

This supposedly giddy romp, which compares unfavorably with a Love, American Style segment and the coffee commercial in which two close friends reminisce about a cute French waiter, focuses on best pals Kozak and McGovern. While happily married to a sweet, absent-minded math professor (Pullman) who plays the blues on his harmonica as he works through quadratic equations, Kozak continues to have heavy-breathing dreams about her high school beau (Wahl). Sure, they are only dreams, but they are starling to affect her marriage—and starting to get in the way of a good night's sleep. So Kozak concocts a scheme: What if her best friend (McGovern), a single, sexually adventurous art gallery owner, goes to Denver, looks up Wahl, inveigles him into bed, then returns home and gives Kozak a full accounting? That should certainly put an end to that inconvenient fantasizing once and for all. Besides, what are best friends for? McGovern, who is in a seemingly meaningless though sexually superlative relationship with an artist (Pitt), agrees to the plan with, of course, unforeseen consequences. The Favor cannot lay claim to a single plot twist that is at all new or interestingly redone. Nor can it boast one single piece of dialogue that merits anything more than a pained smile. The cast members, particularly Pullman and Pitt, deserve an audience's deepest, deepest sympathy. (R)

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