In The Mood

The real-life teenager Ellsworth Sonny Wisecarver inspired outraged headlines in 1944 by running off with two older married women. Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams), this 1987 comedy about Wisecarver’s misadventures seems loosely modeled after Woody Allen’s period forays, even down to Ralph Burns’s pleasantly energetic score of big band hits. A lot of sincere effort on the part of the filmmakersincluding actors Patrick Dempsey, Talia Balsam, Beverly D’Angelo, and some veteran character players like Michael Constantine and Kathleen Freemanpays off intermittently, but the wise-guy humor gets cloying, and even the noble attempts at period ambience within a modest budget are occasionally undercut by reversions to contemporary slang. Wisecarver himself puts in a cameo appearance as a cranky postman in a mock newsreel. 99 min. (JR)

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