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‘Married to It’ (R)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 26, 1993

"Married to It" is principally a TV sitcom with elephantiasis, a slight but way long cogitation on the day-to-day minutiae of getting and keeping coupled. An ensemble piece for six badly used actors, the movie offers a cursory look at the troubles of three couples, then fixes them with improbable changes of heart and character.

The couples, who have nothing in common except that they are white Homo sapiens, become closer than tinned sausages while serving on a private school pageant committee. Because the kids are studying the '60s -- which are only the '90s upside-down -- the pageant has to do with peace, love beads and flower power. This comes in handy since two of the couples, both fortysomething, are conversant with the era.

Beau Bridges and Stockard Channing actually resemble an acid flashback as an unkempt Woodstock-nostalgic welfare worker and a granny-dress-wearing assistant to Mayor Koch (who cameos). Long married with two kids, they'd actually need a bellows to get the spark back into their relationship. By contrast, newly wedded Ron Silver seems to be desperately searching the set for a fire extinguisher to put out Cybill Shepherd. A sexually voracious investment banker, Shepherd resents Silver's 13-year-old daughter (Donna Vivino), who resents Silver for divorcing her resentful mother.

The tedious teen takes her problems to the school psychologist (Mary Stuart Masterson), who asks her, "And how does that make you feel?" It's lucky she's a shrink when you consider she works in a closet. Masterson, one of the sublimated lesbians of "Fried Green Tomatoes," is happily married here to her childhood sweetheart (Robert Sean Leonard of "Dead Poets Society") when a plot twist from the late '80s sours things. A stockbroker accused of insider trading, Leonard shuts her out as he prepares for trial.

The women and men, who have bonded by now, support each other through their many crises with a lot of booze and sloppy sentiment. The sodden aphorisms of Janet Kovalcik's script pile up like used towels in a gym hamper. Of the actors, only Channing and Bridges rise above the sap of Kovalcik's story and the rigid direction of shopworn pro Arthur Hiller. "Married to It" is more than a bummer, it's mental cruelty.

"Married to It" is rated R for profanity and sexual situations.

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