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‘Year of the Comet’ (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 27, 1992

A beer drinker (Tim Daly) meets a Bordeaux taster (Penelope Ann Miller) in "Year of the Comet," a routine romp they should have called "Romancing the Wine." Miller is the scrappily refined daughter of a London wine merchant; Daly is a crassily attractive gofer for a Texas wine connoisseur. Thrown together because that's how these things work, they save a bottle of rare Lafitte 1811 from a shrewdly suave villain (Louis Jourdan) who pursues them across Europe. And while they're at it, they fall in love.

Miller, Daly and Jourdan are respectively spunky, hunky and flunky -- a one-dimensional passel of players as directed by Peter Yates from a screenplay by William Goldman, who just happens to be Yates's neighbor in the south of France. Yates, whose achievements include "The Dresser," and Goldman, who is the screenwriter's screenwriter, wanted to make a movie about their three favorite things: the Scottish Highlands, the Riviera and red wine. And that's exactly what they did. The scenery's pretty and one can practically smell cork.

The plot, tried, true and altogether tiresome, wouldn't matter if there were more sparks between Daly (of TV's "Wings") and Miller (of "Awakenings"). A callow version of Tom Selleck, Daly hasn't quite grown into his chest hair yet and somehow he manages to appear both smug and dumb. Miller, meanwhile, pluckily pushes the envelope of cute, but then Goldman hasn't given the poor pets anything better to do. He hasn't made sense of the characters, much less developed them, only put dialogue in their mouths, some of which is darned clever.

The movie also looks as if it were made using the technology available around the time the Lafitte was bottled.

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