Get into the spirit with real romance. Stevenson Lowe's girlfriend, Julia, wants to get married. But all thoughts of proposing are quickly scared out of him by a couple of grouchy ghosts who have the marriage from hell. They are Max and Lily Gale, theatrical legends, and the original residents of his newly purchased brownstone. They have no intention of leaving to make room for this new couple. When Julia decides she's waited long enough for a proposal, she leaves Stevenson and his crazy ghost stories behind. Will his afterlife houseguests be able to reunite our young lovers? True love gets a spirited test in this charming, offbeat romantic comedy starring James Spader (Stargate) and Academy Award-winners Michael Caine (Hannah and Her Sisters) and Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie).
James Spader looks like the hardest-working man in show business as the busy, comic-romantic lead in this enjoyable "film blanc" (a tongue-in-cheek phrase coined by film critic Andrew Sarris to describe that genre of movies featuring ghosts in love). Spader plays Stevenson Lowe, heir to a highly respected publishing firm that has recently been purchased by a giant media corporation. Though Stevenson has deluded himself into believing the new owners will allow him to maintain creative control over his family's book line, he soon discovers the unpleasant truth. A ludicrous executive (funny work by Buck Henry) is pushing no-brainer tomes about cats and the female fat cell into the spring list, pushing poor Stevenson into the margins of his own company.
His helplessness has a way of resonating with other mushy areas of his life. Having purchased an expensive townhouse for himself alone, Stevenson severely disappoints his long-suffering girlfriend (Polly Walker in a rare comic outing), who thought they were going to get married. The hero's dithering on this sore subject gets more complicated when he discovers a pair of Jazz Age ghosts (Michael Caine and Maggie Smith) occupying his new home and dispensing unwanted advice about love. Directed by Peter Yates (Breaking Away), Curtain Call has a low-key charm kept alive by the considerable skills of its admirable cast (including Sam Shepard, Marcia Gay Harden, and Frank Whaley), while a handful of memorable, screwball scenes deliver solid sight gags. Not a masterpiece, but a real treat. --Tom Keogh