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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take The Family...Please!
I hadn't really studied the package that closely, but as the opening credits were playing, I couldn't help but think, "Wow! This is, like, the dream cast." I knew, of course, that it featured Tracey Ullman and Kevin Kline as the leads. But Joan Plowright! River Phoenix (what a tragic loss)! William Hurt! They even squeezed character actress Miryam Margolies. And, of...
Published on August 24, 2005 by Gregor von Kallahann

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love, Pizza, Murder, And A Real Fun Cast
This 1990 release is one of those quirky little comedy movies overlooked almost immediately after release. But, unlike others, this cast is loaded with talent: Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, Joan Plowright, River Phoenix, William Hurt, and Keanu Reeves. Kevin Kline's "Joey Boca" is a gem of characterization. [Imagine a Joey Buttafuoco with actual warmth and real charm,...
Published on November 22, 2007 by Tony Spadarella


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take The Family...Please!, August 24, 2005
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
I hadn't really studied the package that closely, but as the opening credits were playing, I couldn't help but think, "Wow! This is, like, the dream cast." I knew, of course, that it featured Tracey Ullman and Kevin Kline as the leads. But Joan Plowright! River Phoenix (what a tragic loss)! William Hurt! They even squeezed character actress Miryam Margolies. And, of course, you've got Keanu Reeves in yet another stoner role, but you know, you gotta give Keanu credit. No one did those roles better. He is spot on here.

A black comedy based on actual events? Hmm, how often do you come across something of that ilk? It is, as many reviewers have noted, something less than a complete success, and there were actually moments when I was ready to give up on it. Some of the shifts were just too abrupt. But if it falters here and there, the movie seems to somehow pick itself right back up again. The arrival of drugged out Harlan and Marlon (Hurt and Reeves) comes at one such lull and their presence gives the film a shot in the arm (no pun intended).

Not all of the gags work, of course, but the stellar cast is always worth watching. If you've ever wondered whether Tracey Ullman was more of a sketch comedian than an actress, her performance here should lay any such doubts to rest. As her mom, Joan Plowright is an absolute hoot. I can't tell for sure whether this legendary British actress's "Yugoslavian" accent is as flawless as countrywoman Ullman's "all-American" one, but she is so priceless, I can't imagine even the proudest Croatian critic arguing the point.

What of the "actual events" on which this is based? Apparently, the movie gets the gist of it, maybe more. Apparently, the Pennsylvania couple on which these seemingly impossible characters are based really did go through all of this and were still together last anyone knew. And the hubby really did change his wayward ways after his wife's multiple attempts to murder him. One discrepancy that I did read about, however, was that she really did wind up serving some time. But call that cinematic license.

There is at least an interesting subtext about Old World values and codes, and how they can justify all kinds of "outrageous" behavior (by contemporary US standards), while still seeming to be fundamentally "conservative" in nature. But that's for a doctoral dissertation or something. For our present purposes, let's just say that this oddball dark comedy is one worth seeing.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far Under-Rated Comedy.., May 9, 2004
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
I saw this movie shortly after it's release on HBO in the earliy '90s. It has a full fledge cast that just make it superb to watch. Kevin Kline as Joey the Pizzaria Owner, who just can't get enough women, and is soo fun loving. Tracy Ullman plays his wife Rosalee, who loves her husband soo much, she would rather kill him than share him with any other woman. Joan Plowright plays Rosalee's Mother, who has a nack for mechanical work and it's nothing for her to be working on a carbortor at the Dinner Table at a restaraunt while the family is dinnig out. River Phoenix plays the boy who works at the Pizzaria, and is deeply in love with Rosalee, so much so,that he is willing to aid her in knocking off her husband, only after the futile attempts from Rosalee and her Mom. After he fails, they call in a couple of bargin basement junkies,(William Hurt & Keanu Reeves) from the local tavern to finish the job, but even they can't seem to pull it off. It's just one good laugh after another. I wore out my VHS Tape and then got the Laser Disc. I was happy to discover that it has been released on DVD!
Also, I believe that this is based on a true story as well!!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Skinny, February 9, 2008
This movie is based on the real life antics that occurred here in Allentown, Pa. to a friend of mine, his family and employees.

Here's the story: "When Anthony Toto, 37, a pizza-shop owner in Allentown, Pa., put up $50,000 bail for his wife Frances Lenore, the local police and others in the community were stunned. The reason: according to charges filed by the district attorney, Frances had conspired to murder her husband -- not once but twice.

The bizarre case began on Jan. 25. That night, prosecutors contend, Anthony Bruno, the 20-year-old boyfriend of Toto's 17-year-old daughter Elizabeth, crept into Toto's bedroom, located the .25-cal. gun that Toto kept near his bed and fired a bullet into his head. Toto was grievously but not fatally wounded.

Then his wife Frances allegedly began force-feeding him large doses of barbiturates, which succeeded only in putting him into a semiconscious state. Two days later, according to police, two friends of Anthony Bruno's, hired by Frances for $500, showed up in the bedroom to finish the job. They were Ronald Barlip, 19, and his cousin Donald, 18. The bullet one of them allegedly fired entered an inch from Toto's heart, but it too proved not to be lethal.

Police, tipped off by an informant, entered the Toto house two days later and found Toto asleep, breathing heavily: doctors later speculated that the barbiturates he had been given may have saved his life by drastically lowering his metabolism and retarding the bleeding.

Police arrested Frances, Bruno, the Barlips and the two Toto children, Elizabeth and Anthony. Toto was released from the hospital two weeks later, with the first bullet still lodged in his skull. He says he intends to stand by his family during the coming court proceedings. Said an Allentown police detective: "He loves her." The district attorney's office is said to be worried about the case: Tony Toto promises to be a hostile witness." Tony's wife was found guilty and sentenced to time in Muncy, Pa. women's correctional facility. Tony moved the family there to be near her. Art and Linda Beers wrote the non-fiction book that was bought for the movie. After coming out to L.A. to do the screenplay, they were ripped off for all their efforts by not getting any credit for their work. The credit for it went to John Kostmayer who didn't do the real digging for the story, he just adjusted the work of the Beers'.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully bent comedy--based on a true story!, August 23, 2003
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
This tale is about a highly energetic husband (Kevin Kline) who works and runs a pizza store next to his and his wife's rental apartment. His wife, who has glorified her productive husband as her knight in shining armor, suddenly is confronted with the fact that he has been cheating on her--with more than one woman. So...she sets off to kill him, only that turns into
an hilarious set of misadventures, in itself. Kline and Tracy Ullman make a great team. The script is fun and moves quite quickly. Look forward to our favorite additional character: the husband's mother-in-law.
As I've said before, this story is based on a true couple. He was cheating, running a pizzaria; and she had problems trying to bump him off. She went to trial, he was still alive and more than survived. She and he, as far as I can tell from last updates, are
still married and living happily together. From a talkshow interview, he claimed that the fury of his wife's attempts helped
to make him a better man. Go for the comedy movie!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SITCOM-STYLE COMEDY OF MISADVENTURES WITH APPEALING CAMEOS.., July 8, 2004
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
I take off one star for the somewhat slight theme based on the true but quaint counter-intuitive romance of a couple whose marriage was revitalized after the wife almost succeeded in murdering her husband.
But it comes with some brilliant cameos from some big names: Kline as an Italian pizza shop owner, William Hurt and Keanu Reeves as spaced out druggies, Plowright a staunch mother with a thick Yugoslavian accent and extremely funny, and an absolutely pivotal wife's role played by Ulman, who finds the stubborn vindictiveness inside her character, sunny and trusting one moment and unforgiving and brutal the next.
It's not an astounding comedy and some gags are hit-and-miss, but as a saving grace the film is well-paced. The DVD I got features trailers for three other movies (go figure) but I still recommend this one as a decent rental.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterical Ensemble, July 28, 2005
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
What a beautiful, talented, perfect cast. Everyone plays their part with perfection and from the beginning, it's non-stop laughter! Joan Plowright is at her best - this is a jewel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange-But-True Dark Comedy, May 1, 2006
By 
Craig Connell (Lockport, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
A surprise hit....at least with me. I found this dark comedy hilarious in spots and so-so in others, but overall a funny movie. With comedy that's what happens anyway: some jokes connect; others don't. Most are pretty good in here but beware: some of the jokes are in poor taste, but that's a dark comedy for you. Also, some Catholics might be offended because the film takes some shots at them, or at least people who go overboard in rationalizing their sins, as Kevin Kline does in here.

There is an odd assortment of actors in here and they all contribute to the fun: Kline, Tracey Ullman, William Hurt, River Phoenix, Keannu Reeves, Joan Plowright and James Gammon.

Supposedly, this film was based on a real-life happening, which makes it all the more interesting and lending credence to the saying that "truth is stranger than fiction."

Plowright almost steals the show from Kline and Ullman, the husband-and-wife team who have problems because of Kline's persistent cheating on her. Plowright in Ullman's mother and has some of the best lines in the film as mother and daughter plot how to kill the immoral Kline.

Phoenis plays a young New Age devotee and Hurt and Reeves are funny as two totally stoned-out hit men. Hurt is particularly good.

This movie is so-so to start until Ullman finds her husband cheating. Then, after a heart-wrenching minute or so, she and her mother plot to kill the unfaithful spouse. The comedy then goes full out as they hire these really goofy hit men and things don't go smoothly. The ending is quite different and quite touching with a very good message....which is all I will say in case you haven't seen this.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love, Pizza, Murder, And A Real Fun Cast, November 22, 2007
By 
Tony Spadarella (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
This 1990 release is one of those quirky little comedy movies overlooked almost immediately after release. But, unlike others, this cast is loaded with talent: Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, Joan Plowright, River Phoenix, William Hurt, and Keanu Reeves. Kevin Kline's "Joey Boca" is a gem of characterization. [Imagine a Joey Buttafuoco with actual warmth and real charm, yet retaining the crassness.] Kevin Kline plays this endearing pizzamaking/Lothario to the hilt, complete with Italian accent. And William Hurt and Keanu Reeves as the stoner hitmen "Harlan" and "Marlon" hired to kill him are Beckett characters on dope. Everything's improbable and yet somehow it all works beautifully. Recommended: Order an extra large pizza, buy some beer, and invite some friends over who really like to laugh.

[This movie perhaps deserves more than the three lousy stars I gave it, but unlike other armchair critics, I'm not just giving out my four- and five-stars like bon-bons. The is a VERY GOOD little movie.]
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poorlydescribed, July 4, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: I Love You to Death (DVD)
I have seen the movie before and loved it. When purchesed on line I was not told that it would only play on a region 2 DVD player and was consequently useless for me. Return was so complicated that it was not worth the trouble. Will see to it that anything I can purchase elsewhere will not be purchased on Amazon.

Rick
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Ten Hilarious Movies!, May 17, 2003
By 
Margaret K. Newood (Macomb Twp, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This movie is perfectly paced and utterly hilarious! Just when you're loving and hating Joey all at once, up pops two surprises: Keanu Reeves and William Hurt, as burnout would-be killers. From there, the movie rolls like a meatball down a mountain, gaining momentum, getting funnier and funnier, until you realize that you don't care how it ends, because you have been entertained. Relax: the ending's great. The only thing bad about this movie is that it's not on DVD yet. I don't know how much longer I can wait. In the meantime, my VHS copy gets more and more worn every chance I get. I pray for rainy days, so I have an excuse to do no chores and sit down with this movie. It's a giggle fest from start to finish, and Kevin Kline is completely wonderful in it. Joan Plowright is equally wonderful, and her line, "Try for discount," is terrifically repeatable. What a great movie, and great for any age, although there is one very strong word right in the middle (the "P" word) - used for comic relief, but still... I have to mute the tv when my kids are around, and that's a drag. Otherwise, this movie is a real joy. Give it a chance; it's fabulous.
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I Love You to Death
I Love You to Death by Kevin Kline (DVD - 2003)
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