Picks and Pans Review: The Substitute Wife
Despite such recent films as Threesome and Reality Bites, Generation X filmmakers don't have a monopoly on the love triangle plot. Take, for instance, this surprising, beguiling western romance.
With four young kids, a laconic homesteader (Peter Weller) struggling to make a go of it in a sod house on the prairie is overwhelmed when his hardworking wife (Lea Thompson) develops a fatal illness. She scours the countryside to find him a new helpmeet before she goes. But there's a real shortage of good unattached Christian womenfolk in the territory.
You know what they say: When all else fails, lower your expectations. Thompson finally drafts a painted harlot named Pearl (Farrah Fawcett) to step into her clodhoppers.
What we have here is a sort of cross between 1991 's Sarah, Plain and Tall and Overboard, the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy of 1987. Considering its unlikely premise, this is a heartening tale, a modest, touching and nicely played little gem.