Picks and Pans Review: Hard Promises

updated 02/17/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/17/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Sissy Spacek, William Petersen

When tumbleweed Joey Coalter (Petersen) receives an invitation to the wedding of his wife, Chris (Spacek), he dashes back to his rural hometown to stop the proceedings. Turns out Chris is no longer his wife; tired of Joey's protracted absences, she has obtained a divorce—and the house, the ear and a reliable fiancé (Brian Kerwin). It's not that she didn't love Joey, an itinerant worker, Chris explains; it's just that he was never around for her or their daughter, Beth (Olivia Burnette)—he was out West or in Alaska or Bali.

Wherever he's been, the comic and romantic possibilities of the situation have utterly escaped the filmmakers. Instead they have Joey threaten to break Chris's new thermopane bedroom window, try to bust up the wedding rehearsal while chairs are hurled in his path and ply the groom-to-be with tequila. Hard Promises, which has a cheesy, stage-set look and plays like a TV movie, can best he described as aerobic. Characters are constantly running, climbing trees, jumping from trees, stamping their feet and throwing chairs and fits.

Spacek—this is meant in the nicest possible way—is simply not convincing as a screaming ninny who can't trust herself to be alone with her former husband. Petersen looks and acts like a young Lee Majors. No way could this man send Spacek into a sweat and a swivet. (PG)

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