If this were the 1930s, Patrick Dempsey and Helen Slater would be major stars. Dempsey looks like Eddie Bracken, dances like Gene Kelly, and is funny to boot; Slater has the face of a goddess and the soul of a screwball comedienne. They’re the types the old studio system thrived on, but modern-day Hollywood is too lumberingly unimaginative to cast them according to their strengths.

Unfortunately, Happy Together won’t change that. Coming to video after a token theatrical release, it’s one of those low-budget romantic comedies that could be made only in L.A., where burgeoning filmmakers see the world entirely through other movies. Slater is miscast as a ditzy Manhattan rich kid enrolled at the University of Southern California — there’s nothing New York about her — and Dempsey fares little better as the would-be Faulkner who’s mistakenly assigned as her roommate. While some witty dialogue might have helped, screenwriter Craig Nevius provides only platitudes and bad comic relief.

The end product isn’t actively awful, it’s just perfectly banal from the title on down. The stars work overtime to ingratiate (and Dempsey even gets to dance a little), but it isn’t enough. Happy Together is Breakfast at Tiffany’s reconstituted for mall brats —it’s Holly Go-Lite. C-

Happy Together (Movie - 1997)
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