By Lawrence O'Toole
Updated June 14, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Intended to inspire an easy, buoyant mood, this romantic comedy from director Peter Weir seems custom-made for video; Green Card is the kind of thing that looks ideal for renting with your significant other on a summer night. Horticulturist Andie MacDowell, who wants to be accepted into a restricted New York apartment building, agrees to a marriage of convenience with illegal alien Gérard Depardieu, who needs a green card. She’s insufferably prim, he’s a vagabond soul, and they can’t stand each other — now there’s a new plot idea. Investigated by U.S. immigration authorities, they’re forced to live as man and wife, and it doesn’t take a Fulbright scholar to figure out what’s coming.

All that’s tolerable. What isn’t is Weir’s stale and sloppy writing. This is a shame, because the movie is pretty, and Weir (Dead Poets Society) directs with the right unhurried pacing for home viewing. MacDowell makes a gorgeous snow queen, yet she’s a gawky actress: When she weeps you can’t help but wonder whether it’s over a chipped nail. Depardieu is charmingly loose. Even so, at its heart this movie is, like Pretty Woman, very tired stuff tarted up in glad rags. C

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