Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
"Cross My Heart" begins with Martin Short and Annette O'Toole preparing themselves for going out together on a third date, an experience they both apparently equate with being locked in a small room with hungry rats. It's not that they don't like each other. On the contrary, they both feel they may actually be falling in love, and that the other person may be Right for them. That's the problem: Both Short and O'Toole have told so many lies on the first two dates that they don't see how they can start telling the truth now.
Short has claimed he is about to be appointed regional sales manager of his firm, which sells sunglasses. In fact, he has just been fired. O'Toole has neglected to reveal that she smokes and has a 7-year-old daughter. Desperate to impress, Short picks up O'Toole in a car that is not his own and tries to lure her back to a garishly stylish apartment, also not his own. The entire evening is a fragile construction of lies that threatens to come crashing down at any moment.
What director Armyan Bernstein does with this premise is courageous and ambitious, but only fitfully successful. Bernstein, who co-wrote the script with Gail Parent, commits the long central passage of his film to an extended duet in the borrowed apartment, where Short inveigles O'Toole into bed, not exactly against her will, and the two of them earn a footnote in cinematic history by becoming the first characters in a major movie to discuss and use condoms. They are refreshingly frank about their choice of brands, but otherwise maintain their lies to orgasm and beyond. ("It was a great little climax," O'Toole unhelpfully reassures Short.)
These are the sorts of roles actors will kill for. Short and O'Toole are on screen for almost the whole movie and are called upon to bare their souls and bodies, engage in meaningful conversation, laugh, cry, and star in slapstick and action sequences. It is always a pleasure to watch them, especially since Bernstein is giving both actors an opportunity to sound notes that have usually been denied to them.