Chance of a Lifetime

This very mild, very sweet made-for-TV movie is an oddity: At a time when most TV films opt for young hunks and fact- based tragedies, Chance casts The Golden Girls’ Betty White and The Naked Gun‘s Leslie Nielsen as a romantic couple in a light comedy. White plays the widowed owner of a decorating business; in the opening moments, we see that she’s petty and imperious — a miserable boss. Then her doctor (William Windom, nicely grumpy as always) tells her she has six months to live. How many times have you seen that premise played out?

On vacation in Mexico, White meets Nielsen, a suave widower. You can predict the rest — they have a whirlwind affair, White learns how to live again, and then finds out her diagnosis was wrong. Uh-oh: What to do when what you thought was your last fling turns out to be the start of a relationship you aren’t sure you want anymore?

Chance is thin on outright laughs but suffused with a kind of low-key humor that’s rare on TV these days. Nielsen is intelligent and charming, not at all like the slapstick dumbbell he plays in the Naked Gun films, and Ed Begley Jr. is awfully good as White’s harried, confused son — it’s probably the most subtle work he has done. I doubt that Chance has a chance at big ratings, but it’s a nice surprise. B+

Chance of a Lifetime
  • TV Show