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The Matchmaker
  [rating: 2 of 4 stars]movie review by Gary Johnson

The Matchmaker gives us the story of a jaded political aide, Marcy Tizard (Janeane Garofalo), who gets sent on a mission to an isolated village in Ireland. Her boss, Massachusetts Senator John McGlory (Jay O. Sanders), sees voter approval ratings sagging, so he plans to exploit his ancestral roots in order to advance his political career. With a little luck, Marcy might even dig up a connection to the Kennedy clan. Muttering all the way, Marcy sets off for Ballinagra, Ireland. When she arrives, however, she finds herself in the middle of the annual Matchmaking Festival. Hundreds of men and women are flocking to Ballinagra in hopes of meeting the perfect mate, and the matchmakers themselves are out in force, passing out business cards left and right.

When she shows up in Ballinagra, she finds all the hotel rooms are taken, a dog pisses on her luggage, and when she finally does get a room ("The smallest room in the world!" she screams.) she finds a man soaking in her bathtub. This story sounds like perfect material for Janeane Garofalo--a perfect opportunity for her to let loose with her acid-tongued cynicism. And yes, the movie does go down that path for a few minutes, but then it backs away. We end up getting a kinder gentler Janeane Garofalo. Never has she smiled so much before in a movie. Indeed, she has one of the truly great smiles in Hollywood nowadays, but I found myself missing the scowling, moody Janeane.

Milo O'Shea and Janeane Garofalo in The Matchmaker.
(©1997 Gramercy Pictures. All rights reserved.)

Initially, Marcy isn't impressed with Ireland. She's only irritated by everything she sees, and she calls everyone she meets "Paddy." An old codger throws rocks at her and calls her "loud," "mischievous," "greedy," and "meddlesome." Matchmakers keep giving her advice. However, very quickly she starts to see the men and women pairing off and then she starts to feel like something might be missing from her own life.

If you've seen the movie Local Hero, then The Matchmaker might sound familiar. Both movies send an American to a remote part of the UK and then turn our expectations upside down. Peter Riegert played the American in Local Hero and he went to Scotland to acquire property rights for an oil company run by a crazy millionaire (played by Burt Lancaster). Director Bill Forsyth gave us plenty of eccentric characters to liven up the town, including a beautiful woman marine biologist who might also be a mermaid (a witty comment on Scottish mythology). However, while The Matchmaker does contain a few interesting characters, such as Milo O'Shea as one of the town's leading matchmakers, the story itself doesn't hold many surprises. A relationship starts to develop between Marcy and the young man that she found soaking in her tub (played by David O'Hara). However, the chemistry between Garofalo and O'Hara isn't exactly fiery. The movie coasts on the considerable charms of Garofalo, but even her cute-as-a-bug's-ear smile begins to wear thin after a while.

Janeane Garofalo and David O'Hara in The Matchmaker.
(©1997 Gramercy Pictures. All rights reserved.)

The wonderfully bizarre circumstances that plant Marcy in the middle of the Matchmaking Festival never really pay off. Whereas Local Hero was filled with quirky charms and oddball situations, The Matchmaker never becomes particularly inspired. The ads for The Matchmaker try to sell the movie as "a romantic comedy for people who hate romantic comedies." But ultimately, The Matchmaker becomes just what it tries to avoid--a conventional romantic comedy, the kind where the man and woman hate each another initially, but then their love starts to grow. The movie's initial quirkiness eventually only yields predictable romantic situations.


Go to the Gramercy/Polygram Web site

A Gramercy Pictures Release


Marcy TizardJaneane Garofalo
SeanDavid O'Hara
DermotMilo O'Shea
Nick WardDenis Leary
Sen. John McGloryJay O. Sanders
DeclanPaul Hickey
SarahMaria Doyle Kennedy
MoiraSaffron Burrows
MillieRosaleen Linehan
Directed byMark Joffe
Produced byTim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Luc Roeg
Screenplay byKaren Janszen
Louis Nowra
Graham Linehan
Based on a Screenplay byGreg Dinner
Director of PhotographyEllery Ryan
Production DesignerMark Geraghty
Edited byPaul Martin Smith
Music byJohn Altman
Costume DesignerHoward Burden
Line ProducerNicky Kentish Barnes
Executive ProducerLyn Goleby
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