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R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 12/19/1996,

One Fine Day

Like Multiplicity, this hectic comedy measures the strain upon yuppie parents who struggle to be everywhere at once. It takes place during one not-so-fine day in Manhattan, as an architect and divorced mom (Michelle Pfeiffer) repeatedly crosses paths with a newspaper columnist and divorced dad (George Clooney), both of whom are cosmically thwarted in their attempts to drop their young kids off at school and then get to work. Wacky complications ensue when they accidentally swap cell phones, the point being that time-saving toys like these are more of a hindrance than a help. Gradually, this overlong day (and movie) forces the parents to wrestle with their schedules as a tag team, and the charismatic actors clear space to develop a flirtatious rapport worthy of Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

No surprise that Pfeiffer's character is the one obliged to make a crucial career sacrifice -- or that it all works out in the end. In fact, both Mom and Dad are blessed with such good luck that the burden of setting priorities is barely an issue. Privilege and coincidence have always been central to screwball comedy, but the speed of crosstown travel here rivals Die Hard 3 for plausibility. And it's these convenient shortcuts that waylay the film from examining the condition it purports to critique: that is, the '90s compulsion to drive at full throttle. At the Cheri, the Harvard Square, and the Circle and in the suburbs.

-- Rob Nelson