Frankie and Johnny (15)

Review by Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer.

WHILE hardly either Al Pacino or Michelle Pfeiffer's greatest hours, this amiable romantic comedy is still a pleasing enough movie, benefiting from a charismatic star turn from Pacino and some nice direction from Garry Marshall.

Adapted by Terrence McNally from his own play, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Marshall's movie is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to recapture the magic of his own Pretty Woman (1990), and pits two attractive leads in a seemingly hopeless romantic situation in which true love prevails.

In this instance, Pacino is newly-arrived short-order cook, Johnny, who attempts to woo the commitment-phobic Frankie (Pfeiffer) in the down-at-heel Apollo Cafe run by Hector Elizondo's kindly Greek owner, while trying to stave off the man-hungry advances of Kate Nelligan's well-observed nymphomaniac.

Pacino drifts through proceedings wearing a vest, a bandana and a cocky expression, while Pfeiffer does her best to look dowdy and exasperated, but audiences know from the start that these two are meant for each other and should take delight in the obstacles that frequently litter their path.

While falling some way short of the dream-like charisma of Pretty Woman, Frankie & Johnny comes across as an altogether more grimy and real-life excursion through New York life; and occasionally feels all the more refreshing for it. Marshall's direction neatly makes good use of location, while also allowing Pacino to do what he does best (sweep all before him) without becoming too showy.

The chemistry between the two leads works well, the supporting players (for once) add a little meat, and the resolution - while predictable - stays just the right side of sickly sweet. For hopeless romantics, this is one to warm the cockles of the heart.