I'm not sure why anyone wanted to make Irreconcilable Differences, at least not as a big screen movie. This is real TV movie stuff, blown up to big budget proportions, without any corresponding increase in the underlying value of the material. The central concept is that a little girl (Drew Barrymore, who is OK but not fantastic) is suing her parents for divorce. This is tossed aside early on to give way to a dreadfully standard romantic comedy, then the concept is picked up at the end to prove that the screenwriters didn't forget it. This is no more a serious study of whether some children are better off without their parents than it is an expose of the collapse of marriages in Hollywood, though I'll bet it got sold as both somewhere along the line.

The central focus is on the parents, played by Ryan O'Neal and Shelley Long. Both are charming, and that's about all the script really called for, so I suppose one can't fault them. They meet cute, one of the prerequistes for second rate romantic comedies. He's a professor of film moving from the east coast to UCLA (yay!) who has decided it would be exciting to hitchhike across the country. She's about to get married to a naval officer, and is driving his beloved car across country. She splatters O'Neal with mud as he attempts to hitch a ride with her, and he eventually talks her into picking him up. Romance blooms, Long forgets her naval officer, and they get married four days later.

O'Neal eventually becomes a successful director, with Long providing the body of his scripts. But a selfish young ninny comes between them. Blind devotion to the little rotter cause O'Neal to forget his wife and his daughter, and eventually to destroy his career. Meanwhile, Long becomes a Haagen Daas junkie for a while, then writes a best selling roman a clef novel, just in time to lord it over O'Neal's downfall. Poor little Drew is forgotten in all the excitement, and learns how to make enchiladas from the Mexican housekeeper. Eventually, enough is enough, or perhaps even too much, and she hires Allen Goorwitz, playing a lawyer, to separate her from her parents.

None of this is particularly fresh, though there is a certain energy in the earlier scenes and there are a few funny lines scattered throughout. Let's face it, it's just an average TV movie dressed up with fancier sets, a few bigger names, and a couple of scenes with a lot of extras. Looked at in those terms, it's hard for me to criticise it too much, but it's also rather shoddy to expect people to pay $5 or so to see it. Wait for it on cable, or on network TV if you don't have cable. This is not one of those films that would lose much on the small screen. Wouldn't be too bad on the bottom half of a double bill, either, or for a buck at a university screening; at any rate, it's certainly nothing special.

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