Film review: Love Potion #9 (1992), directed by Dale Launer
Based on the catchy oldies song Love Potion #9 by The Clovers, the film stars Paul Matthews (Tate Donovan) as a biochemist with absolute zero luck in love. He’s not ugly, he’s just not particularly attractive, and saying you’re in biochemistry doesn’t really impress the ladies. His friends buy him a hooker, Marisa (Mary Mara), but they just end up talking. They drag him along to Madame Ruth (Anne Bancroft), “you know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth” who’s “got a pad down on 34th and Vine”, who first asks if he’s gay. Nope, he’s into ladies alright, they’re just not into him. She gives him a few drops of a thick, red substance called “Love Potion #8” and sends him on his way.
Paul, logically, thinks it’s a load of bull and throws it in the bin when he gets home. In the middle of the night, his house is invaded by every cat in the neighbourhood. See, his cat managed to get to the bin and had a little lick and oh goodness. Surprised and perplexed, Paul takes the rest of the sample to work, where his friend, the equally nerdy Dianne Farrow (Sandra Bullock), works studying the behaviour of chimpanzees. They give a tiny sample to a female chimp, and the male chimp is so desperate to get to her that he breaks through a wall.
To study the effects, they dilute the potion into two spray bottles and decide to do some research and meet up again in four weeks time to see what conclusions they’ve reached. Suddenly, the opposite sex can’t get enough of them. The spray effects the vocal cords, so whenever they’ve used the spray as a breath spray, ta-da! Four hours where the opposite sex will do anything and everything to please them.
Paul decides to play, and buck-toothed Diane gets her teeth done, gets the Italian owner of the company who made the crappy car she owns to give her a new one (Adrian Paul, you might recognise him from The Highlander TV-series), and she even has a prince of England (Dylan Baker) propose to her. Things couldn’t be better. Well, except for Marisa eyeing up Paul’s fancy stereo system and discovering the mouth spray, she robs him blind (he’s ever so delighted to bring it all out to her car) … and Gary (Dale Midkiff), the guy who Diane has been seeing on and off for the past few years, return and claims her for his own. But Paul and Diane were starting to get along so well, even without the potion!
The rest should be self-explanatory. Now beautiful girl geek needs to realise she loves cute boy geek and not gorgeous asshole, which is where Love Potion #9 comes in. And so on.
It’s a romantic comedy, but it’s not a good one. It’s silly – in a bad way – and it’s not really very funny at all. The science behind the potion sounds as bogus as it really is, and it’s not very enjoyable. I do love Sandra Bullock, though, and she’s a great comedic actress. She’s brilliant, even though the script isn’t. Donovan’s okay. Midkiff still has those Christian Westerns ahead of him in his career. Of all the actors involved in this unfunny mess, Bullock is definitely the one that has achieved the most.
1.8 out of 5 panty raids.