There are two very big hurdles that you will to overcome if you're thinking that That Old Feeling could be your Friday night movie of choice. Firstly, have you the rugged constitution that can stomach 110 minutes of Bette Midler - a difficult prospect at the best of times? And secondly, consider whether you can cope with the wispy, uninspired, farcical fluff that this wet Hollywood rom com wafts at you. If you say "nay" to either of the above, leave well alone and spend your money on something else. That Old Feeling isn't a complete waste of time, but it does get perilously close.
The movie is the product of thoroughbred stock, with great comedy director Carl Reiner in control and Leslie Dixon of Mrs Doubtfire fame scribing the thing: a fabulous sounding pedigree, until you remember that between them they've cranked out the likes of Outrageous Fortune, Fatal Instinct, Sibling Rivalry, and - - it gets worse - - Overboard. It's all too easy to forget that Mr Reiner was the talent behind the Steve Martin gems The Jerk and The Man With Two Brains.
It's up to Feeling's hapless actors to try and dive in and save the film - and to some extent their salvage efforts do pay off. If you've ever seen a Bette Midler movie, the brassy, klaxon-mouthed madam she portrays here is immediately recognisable. Lilly's a rich bitch with attitude, providing Midler with ample opportunity to launch into slanging matches, gossip-shovelling and spiky one-liners in an attempt tickle your funny bone. (""You know what your 20s are for? Having sex with all the wrong people. Not to get married..."") Farina, as her hubby, is more impressive, proving his turn as Get Shorty's Ray 'Bones'" Barboni was no fluke. But the real jewel in this movie's (tiny) crown is Paula Marshall who, as Molly, the pair's daughter, nabs many of the best lines and scenes.
It doesn't matter whether you like, or dislike, Bette Midler; for in the end it's the lacklustre script, as opposed to the quality of acting, that finally lets this film down. The story's consequences are far more predictable than funny, the twists lumberingly obvious, and - - to top it all - - Midler sings. Her fans should enjoy it - - all three of you.
The one-liners may keep you amused for a while, but ultimately That Old Feeling is an apt title for such familiar fare.