Picks and Pans Review: Mrs. Winterbourne
In a romantic comedy that only fitfully scores in either category, Lake plays a penniless young woman embraced by a rich family who mistake her for the widow of their just-killed son. Her supposed hubby's priggish twin brother (Fraser), however, has his doubts—until he falls in love with her. Sound familiar? It ought to. This is a comedic reworking of Cornell Woolrich's 1948 novel I Married a Dead Man, previously cinematized as 1950's No Man of Her Own with Barbara Stanwyck (a noirish heart-tugger worth renting). Oh, and let us not forget 1995's While You Were Sleeping.
Although Winterbourne contains elements of classic screwball romance—a ditsy heroine, a staid hero, a wacky matriarch (MacLaine, a hoot here) and luxe settings—as directed by Richard Benjamin, it stays stubbornly earthbound, with the slimmed-down Lake suffering from a severe case of the cutes. The onetime John Waters camp icon morphed into TV talk show host scampers through every scene as if she was campaigning for votes in her high school's Miss Popularity contest. In contrast, Fraser, usually just a big lunk in lackluster youth comedies (Encino Man and Airheads), glides along debonairly, bringing to mind a younger Tom Hanks. And Paula Prentiss (Mrs. Benjamin offscreen), after being absent from the big screen since 1981's Saturday the 14th, makes a welcome return in an unbilled cameo as a nurse. (PG-13)