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Sorry, I Forgot

Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson
Warner Brothers
 100 Minutes
Rated: R
Directed by: Denise Di Novi
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl

Some actors like Malcolm McDowell or Vincent Price, who frequently played villains in bad movies, had what I think of as a finely tuned crap-o-meter, against which they adjusted their performances. If they sensed that a movie was good, they would play their roles straight, but if they realized that they had signed on to a hopelessly bad project, they would let themselves go wildly over the top, if need be. The results were not Oscar-worthy performances, but they generally did have the effect of making a bad movie eminently watchable. I don’t know if Katherine Heigl has such a well-developed crap-o-meter or not, but she delivers a performance in Unforgettable that would make McDowell and Price proud. The result is a movie that’s often so juicily bad that it’s good.


Unforgettable is yet another one of those domestic horror melodramas that seem in recent years to attract early September launch dates and feature largely black casts. The cast of Unforgettable, with the notable exception of Rosario Dawson as beleaguered heroine Julia Banks, is mostly white, but, otherwise, the story is largely indistinguishable from those of films like No Good Deed and The Perfect Guy. Dawson plays the new fiancée of hunky, all-around nice guy David Connover (Geoff Stults). Julia is anxious to make a good impression on David and his young daughter Lilli (Isabella Rice). Julia’s presence does not sit well David’s ex-wife Tessa (Heigl), however, who still envisions reuniting with her ex-husband.


Tessa embarks upon a campaign to win David back, largely by making Julia seem like an unsuitable wife and mother. She is aided considerably in her efforts by the fact that both Julia and David act conveniently stupid at times, enabling Tessa to steal and clone Julia’s cell phone and steal the engagement ring David gave Julia. This allows Tessa to learn a big secret about Julia’s past, one that she hasn’t told her new fiance about. Namely, Julia has a nutso stalker ex-boyfriend Michael (Simon Kassianides), against whom she filed a restraining order. So, Tessa sets up a new fake social media profile for Julia and reaches out to the boyfriend, leading to some spicy online chatter between the faux Julia and Tessa. Eventually, Tessa issues an invitation to Michael to visit Julia at her home, one that Tessa is sure will end badly and hopefully brutally for Julia.


As a woman-in-peril melodrama, Unforgettable is quite forgettable. Rosario Dawson gives an earnest performance as Julia, but someone seems to have neglected to inform her that she’s not making a new version of Kramer v. Kramer but, instead, escapist trash. She plays her role seriously, at odds with the script in nearly every scene. Some of the other actors in the film, like Stults, seem to take their roles seriously as well, although their performances are so wooden, they intentions don’t really matter.


And, let’s face it, Unforgettable is a movie that no audience could take seriously for one second. It is chock full of unintentionally hilarious scenes such as Tessa pleasuring herself while pretending to be Julia in a late night sex chat with Michael, or, later in the film, when she orchestrates a fall down a flight of stairs, a pratfall that would have earned a failing grade from World Wrestling Entertainment. There is also a “spontaneous” sex scene between Julia and David in a public restroom, a scene that is poorly staged and jarringly incredible. The script of Unforgettable seems cobbled together from bits and pieces of dozens of similar movies, and there often seems to be a lack of continuity in the relationship between the various characters. Young Lilli warms up to Julia eventually, but it’s hard to tell just what triggers the bonding.


Yet, for all the film’s minuses (and there are many), I found myself somehow drawn to Unforgettable on several occasions, especially as the movie makes its way towards an oh-so-obviously coming catfight showdown between Julia and Tessa. Let’s face it, the audience was probably expecting this scene from the first time Tessa appeared (or the opening credits if they had seen the film’s trailer), but, when the moment arrives, director Denise Di Novi pulls out all the stops, leading to one of the better fight sequences of this nature I can recall. Since neither Heigl nor Dawson seems to have had much martial arts training, the fight is of the good old-fashioned kick and claw variety, but it’s a guilty pleasure to watch, especially a resolution that’s so incredibly silly that it’s enormously enjoyable.


The fun extends to Katherine Heigl’s performance as Tessa. There’s no subtlety at all here, whether she’s in Eddie Haskell mode feigning innocence at being accused of faking her accident, oversexed slut mode, or just plain bonkers mode. Plus, she gets to channel Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford’s Mommy Dearest when she is “forced” to discipline her daughter. The overacting builds to the finale when she goes all out as the (in her mind) righteous scorned lover. Heigl has never played an out-and-out villain before, but she takes to the role perfectly. I can’t tell whether her performance was director Di Novi’s idea or her own, but Heigl rescues one scene after another with her entertaining overacting.


Heigl isn’t the only person chewing the scenery here. Cheryl Ladd (all too seldom seen nowadays) plays Tessa’s mother Lovey, a manipulative control freak who makes Tessa squirm and desperately fawn for Lovey’s approval—approval that, not surprisingly never comes. The scenes between Lovey and Tessa represent Unforgettable’s only attempt at character analysis, one pitched at an elementary school level. Still, Ladd manages to steal the few scenes in which she appears with a slightly more subtle but equally enjoyable portrayal of nastiness.


My feelings about Unforgettable are rather mixed. I see the flaws in the story and the ridiculously unbelievable stupidity of the various characters that are mandatory to drive the plot forward. But, as might be expected, it’s well made film with some great production design (for a businessman trying to get a microbrewery off the ground, David does surprisingly well in terms of living accommodations), and the two major set pieces in the movie work quite well. Even more important, Heigl and, to a lesser extent, Ladd deliver some of the juiciest overplayed bits of campy villainy I’ve seen in a long time. I’m sure that Unforgettable won’t live up to its name—in a few months, it will be a distant memory for most viewers—but, at least, it’s not one of the many movies this year that audiences will wish they could forget even before they leave the theater.

In this scene, Katherine Heigl throws a fit in front of ex-husband Geoff Stults.

Read other reviews of Unforgettable:


Unforgettable (2017) on IMDb