"I take orders from the Octoboss."

I Love Trouble


June 29, 1994

I LOVE TROUBLE is a romantic comedy mystery thriller about two reporters at rival Chicago newspapers competing to get the scoop about a series of deaths of people connected to a particular project at a chemical company. Peter Brackett (Nick Nolte, 48 HRS.) is a womanizing columnist so famous and “off the charts hot” that he’s in Gap ads and constantly recognized in public. We meet him when he’s dropped off at work by a very satisfied groupie he picked up at a signing for his new novel White Lies. Meanwhile, Sabrina Peterson (Julia Roberts, THE PLAYER) is new in town, introduced into the movie pumps and legs first, noticed for her looks but quickly establishes herself to the point of having a full-sized photo on the side of a delivery truck that crosses paths with the one that has Peter’s photo on it. I wondered if somebody saw the introduction to Siskel & Ebert and thought, “Hmmm. What if one was a lady, and they fell in love? And solved a mystery?”

That pair of thumbs up from the inspiration gods could’ve come to some executive, or it could’ve come to Charles Shyer (SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT) or Nancy Meyers, who are credited as co-auteurs because they co-wrote it and he’s the director and she’s the producer. They had been working together since PRIVATE BENJAMIN.

The story is set in 1994 – the in-flight movie (Shyer and Meyer’s FATHER OF THE BRIDE) is projected, a young witness has Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” blasting in his apartment, there are references to Ross Perot and “the best frozen yogurt joint in the entire state,” she claims that she knows how to shoot because of “Self defense classes – a must for a woman in the ‘90s” – but obviously the whole bickering star reporters competing and falling in love thing was already old timey in those days. So are all the gimmicky wipes and the dissolves to newspaper cover stories spinning into view or flying off the presses, not to mention the scene where he types and imagines little Sabrina faces appearing on each of the keys.

Peter wears a tan overcoat and there’s a whole scene about each of them spying on each other through a skeleton keyhole (!). You know, one of those keyholes hotels had and we all knew to peep through in the ’90s. He finds out she’s secretly reading his novel, she sees him get in the shower and appears to be impressed by his junk.

After Peter plays the cute move of literally sending Sabrina chasing wild geese, they acknowledge that they’re on the same trail and pretend to team up, but are actually withholding clues from each other and searching each others’ personal items every chance they get. They fight and insult each other and hide that they’re actually quite charmed. (I really hate that when they first meet and he asks her “Where did you say you were from? Bitchville?” she pouts but then secretly smiles to herself and the audience. Save that shit for later, movie.)

Things don’t work like the real world. Getting chased on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, they duck into a chapel and accidentally get legally married (with Eugene Levy as the officiant). This is right after knocking a gunman in the backseat unconscious by driving wildly. It acts pretty serious about the thriller stuff but it’s hard to believe in any of the danger.

They get chased around by some menacing figures including James Rebhorn (CARLITO’S WAY) who you know is not to be messed with because he keeps his bulky leather gloves on even while sipping from a little espresso cup at an outdoor cafe. They run into an old friend of Peter’s played by Saul Rubinek (GETTING EVEN WITH DAD), and of course I would never, ever dream of giving away whether or not he turns out to be an evil mastermind at the end. I don’t care if you beg me, I don’t care if you torture me, I’m not telling. Ever. So don’t try.

Reportedly Nolte felt he was selling out by doing the movie, was a total grump on set and he and Roberts absolutely hated working together. I kinda liked seeing them together, though. Roberts does her thing, making the character always likable even though I think she’s written to be kind of a tightwad. We’re supposed to think she has a stick up her ass because she offers him sunblock when they’re stranded in the woods all day. A snooty waiter (Eric Poppick, “Nosy Neighbor,” SINGLE WHITE FEMALE) seems to take it personally for some reason that she orders bland food for health reasons, making it a point to announce the arrival of her “steamed vegetable plate, no salt, no oil, no butter” in the most judgmental way possible.

Like SPEED, this has a major elevator sequence in the first half – they have to climb up the shaft, they get shot at on the roof, climbing back down into the elevator the gunman slips and I guess shoots himself? I like how they first see the gun drop, then the guy, then a pack of Tic-Tacs, then a piece of paper with a clue. Even they seem to realize this is too good to be true.

Guns come into play again at the end, and there’s a showdown on a wobbly catwalk. Pretty traditional. I don’t know Nancy Meyers movies very well, so I was wondering if this is her only one where people plummet to their deaths.

The supporting cast is pretty crazy. Robert Loggia is Peter’s editor, Olympia Dukakis is his secretary, he also works with Jane Adams and Nora Dunn, and we see Charles Martin Smith, Clark Gregg, Paul Gleason and Keith Gordon. Frankie Faison (EXTERMINATOR 2, DO THE RIGHT THING) is the chief of police. I guess Paul Hirsch, editor of STAR WARS and various Brian DePalma movies, is the guy whose seat he steals on the plane and that’s because he edited this along with Walter Murch (APOCALYPSE NOW) and Adam Bernardi (GHOULIES GO TO COLLEGE, BEASTMASTER 2: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME, THE METEOR MAN).

I have to admit that it was 20 minutes into the movie when I looked it up on Wikipedia and realized that this was not the 1994 Nick Nolte movie that was originally shot as a musical with songs written by Prince. That was I’LL DO ANYTHING. There actually were some music-related shenanigans, though – Elmer Bernstein composed an entire score but they ditched it at the last minute and got David Newman to do a new one. He also had THE FLINTSTONES and THE COWBOY WAY this summer, but maybe he doesn’t sleep or something.

I LOVE TROUBLE got mostly bad reviews okay-at-best business. An L.A. Times article included it on a list of “high-profile, high-cost films” that were “summer flops,” along with RENAISSANCE MAN, CITY SLICKERS II and BEVERLY HILLS COP III. The article theorizes that the summer is overcrowded and mentions Universal moving THE RIVER WILD and TIMECOP to the fall to be safe. This might’ve done a little better then, but it’s no TIMECOP. It could use some Prince songs, honestly.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2024 at 7:19 am and is filed under Reviews, Comedy/Laffs, Mystery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

22 Responses to “I Love Trouble”

  1. I think I saw this at the dollar theater, didn’t hate it, but never saw it again. As I’ve mentioned before, I am primed by my 80s childhood to take these kinds of light action-romantic-comedy thriller deals in stride. I now realize that many of them, including this one, are just keying off the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s that the Boomers grew up watching on TV. I now prefer going back to the source. I’m sure this is perfectly adequate softball entertainment, but it’s not gonna touch HIS GIRL FRIDAY for reporters-in-love-with-some-minor-gunplay shenanigans.

  2. I never saw this but for whatever reason the trailer for it is burned into my memory.

    It always interesting to reflect on a time when Nick Nolte was considered a sex symbol. He seems so far removed from contemporary tastes.

  3. They should make a legacy sequel with current crazy beard Nolte and Roberts somehow looking exactly the same.

  4. Saw this also in theaters back in the days… while it was a typical product for Julia Roberts at that time (not fair to say that – she had done Flatliners, Sleeping with the Enemy and Dying Young, and was about to do the Pelican Brief and yet, it seemed that all people wanted her to do was romantic comedies), it was definitely not the kind of films Nick Nolte would do… he had some solid films in the early 90’s with Cape Fear and Prince of Tides just 2 years before…
    Just remember that the chemistry between the two was a bit off… obviously as they really hated each other.

  5. Oooh, I’LL DO ANYTHING… that musical version is infamously obscure. Supposedly it pops up on TV every once in a while, which is sort of wild, since it’s apparently totally different from the theatrical version. Anyone seen it?

  6. So…. Saul Rubinek is the evil mastermind?

  7. Wild to remember a time when Nick Nolte was considered a bonafide sex symbol.

  8. Franchise Fred

    July 2nd, 2024 at 3:51 pm

    Aww yeah this debacle. The day I started as an usher at the movie theater. I hope you’re revisiting The Shadow and Blown Away too though I understand there might not be more to say on The Shadow after summer flings.

  9. Fred – I’m going to watch THE SHADOW again and see if there’s something more to write about it, since I really like that movie, but I just did BLOWN AWAY last March.

  10. Huh, when I saw this pop up I wondered whether it’d be worth commenting that I always forget this *isn’t* the 1994 Nick Nolte movie with the excised Prince songs; turns out I’m not the only one! If you were to guess which one was originally a musical, the 30s/40s throwback with the notoriously difficult production, or the contemporary James L Brooks meditation on the plight of the upper middle class with the slightly less notorious production, you’d guess the former right?

    Glaive- I don’t think the musical cut of I’LL DO ANYTHING has ever turned up on TV, as I understand it’s just about the one obscurity left you have to get the old fashioned way, ie through the tape trading scene and brick and mortar bootleg stores. If it’s ever online I think it’s squashed pretty quickly. I wondered why this was, but then I remembered, oh yeah, Prince.

  11. grimgrinningchris

    July 3rd, 2024 at 5:44 am

    This would be that dark time for Roberts that we like to call Post-Hook, Pre-Soderberg. Also that dark time for Nolte that we call Wednesday.

  12. grimgrinningchris

    July 3rd, 2024 at 5:49 am

    Also before seeing the thumbnail, I thought this was about Nothing But Trouble. Which I think you already reviewed and don’t think is a 94.

  13. I indeed thought too that this was the not-musical.

  14. @Pac, I am 98% certain there was a Saturday night in August, early 00’s, when “I’ll Do Anything”‘s musical cut showed up on ABC that night, and the NY Times were the ones that spotted this anomaly, for which there was no promotion. 98%!

  15. All I know is a few years ago somebody who does regular not-legal one time livestreamings of weird bootlegs and stuff posted that they were going to show it that afternoon but they quickly got served with a cease and desist. I felt guilty for retweeting it like maybe I narc-ed them out.

  16. These random TV airings of different cuts don’t happen often enough. The I’LL DO ANYTHING musical cut might have been the biggest case of it ever, but a few years ago a British station showed a previously unreleased extended cut of the 2013 EVIL DEAD because they were sent the wrong tape (or data file) and some people reported that a German station aired completely out of the blue some kind of extended director’s cut of the Christina Ricci horror flick THE GATHERING, which still hasn’t been released anywhere else as far as I know.

  17. I remember this being very blah. And i went into it expecting a Moonlighting type of experience.

    Also , Nolte was way too old for Roberts IMO

    She was 26 and he was 53 at the time.

  18. Gotta say (well I don’t have to, and maybe I shouldn’t, but I will) I can’t find anything about the musical cut ever airing on TV, and it would seem to run very contrary to pretty much everything that’s been said about in the past 15 years. But it’s possible I guess, stranger things have happened. If it is true, it’s good news because a 20 year old VHS recording, or dare, we dream, a DVD-R!, recording would still almost certainly be better quality than a workprint. Maybe there are even some neat commercials on there.

  19. This may or may not confirm my 98%, but I’m pretty sure this was it!

    1999. I remember the NY Times ‘graph pretty well! It was in the “What To Watch” section of the TV listings, which I can’t seem to find online, even though the Times TV listings were the best because of the tiny reviews left for some movies. But the “What To Watch” thing was a sidebar to the TV Guide, and for some reason that isn’t preserved anywhere. This was that day in the NY Times. https://www.nytimes.com/sitemap/1999/05/29/

    Maybe here, though I don’t have a Times subscription –

  20. Glaive, I just want to say I appreciate the effort, even if we’re probably not going to be able to completely resolve it.

  21. I love the Siskel and Ebert reference in the review. And right around the time I was wondering to myself “Is this the one that began production as a musical?” Vern nicely cleared that up with his Wikipedia revelation.

    I remember this one coming out but had no interest in seeing it. It’s weird that they cast Nolte in this. Not only is he a non-commercial choice to star opposite Julia Roberts in this era, but he’s a bad match for the character as described. At the time it seems like Mel Gibson would be your go-to guy for something like this, but even if he passed how about a Dennis Quaid or a Kevin Kline?

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