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A Sweet 'One Fine Day'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 20, 1996

The quickest way to a man's heart -- or a woman's, for that matter -- is through his cell phone. Though several recent releases feature phone sex scenes, "One Fine Day" is the Baby Bell du jour of wireless intercourse. Stars Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney make 37 calls, most of them to each other, in this touch-tone triumph of romantic romp and family film.

Written by Terrel Seltzer ("Dim Sum") and Ellen Simon ("Moonlight and Valentino"), the romantic comedy combines the joys and travails of child-rearing with those of falling in love . . . in under 12 hours. Improbable? Only the most cynical would question the rapidity with which these cutie-pies fall head over Filofaxes, speed-dialing notwithstanding. Couples just don't come any comelier than Pfeiffer and Clooney, single parents whose lives, and those of their equally attractive children, become intertwined on a crucial day in their respective careers. She's an up-and-coming architect with a big presentation due, and he's a popular newspaper columnist with a deadline.

Both planned to send their 5-year-olds off on a school field trip, both arrive late, and for reasons we won't go into here, they're obliged to take turns caring for her son (Alex D. Linz) and his daughter (Mae Whitman), while the other parent resolves the on-the-job crisis.

At first, they have only one thing in common -- identical cellular phones -- but come the pizza hour, they've not only touched each other's hearts but founded a new family. The kids are also initially at odds, but they, too, work things out. But you knew that: It's how they get there that's the real story.

Though based on a difficult day in the life of producer and single mom Lynda Obst, this refreshing albeit lightweight film gives equal time to the travails of single dads. Though there's plenty of bickering between the leads, the argument has more to do with parenting styles -- she hyper, he's relaxed -- than the battle of the sexes.

Director Michael Hoffman, whose idiosyncratic portfolio includes the period comedy "Restoration" and the spoof "Soapdish," sets a mellow pace and alternates old-fashioned split screen with crosscutting to enliven the many phone scenes. If the stars don't click, of course, nothing else matters.

Happily, Pfeiffer and Clooney, now officially a movie star, not only click, they send off sparks. Hey, that could cause a fire. Maybe somebody should call 911.

One Fine Day is rated PG.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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