REBBECA DE MORNAY and Michael O'Keefe play the newest odd couple in Neil Simon's life, a rock star and a power hitter paired in a sorry comedy called "The Slugger's Wife."
It seems like old times, with all the simplistic Simonistic palaver, the upshot of which is that a woman's work is massaging the male libido. O'Keefe plays Darryl, an Atlanta Brave in a slump. And De Mornay plays Debby, a sexy song stylist who boosts his batting average. Soon he can't hit without her in the stands. Careers clash. But misguided love ensues.
"You're the kind who needs his woman around all the time," she says. Darryl, stimulated to a frenzy by her comment, begins tunneling under the bedcovers till he gets to "home plate," while Debby wriggles and moans like a cheesy sleaze in a porno show. "That's my slider," he says. "Ooooh. Ooooooh. Ooooooooh. Ooooooooh," she says. "Want to see my spinner?" he inquires.
Oh, very well.
The question, however, is not so much how he gets to first base with her, but how, with his limp swing, he can knock one out of the park at all. O'Keefe, supposedly trained by a coach for the Houston Astros' farm team in Columbus, Georgia, is really not ready for the "The Bigs." He plays ball like the San Diego Chicken. I mean, this guy still thinks a fly is where the zipper on your pants goes.
And De Mornay sings like O'Keefe hits. Unfortunately, Hal Ashby directs this debacle like a music video, endlessly focused on De Mornay, her feet splayed like a sturdy little donkey in a strapless gown. De Mornay hopes for a hit single with "Jimmy, Oh," a single from the show's MOR soundtrack. But she is easily outclassed by minor player Lisa Langlois -- not a real singer either -- who is as torrid as Tina Turner in songs later in the film.
De Mornay is like Debby. "She wants time to figure out what she wants to do with her life." What to do? What to do? The greatest yuppie dilemma. Darryl, in the final symbolic scene, offers her his ball. THE SLUGGER'S WIFE (PG-13) -- At area theaters.