Tall Guy [1989]

Falling in love can be glorious, or poignant, or heartwarming ... but for most of us, it's mostly just absurd. And The Tall Guy captures that hysterical, head-over-heels surrealism perfectly. Jeff Goldblum plays the neurotic, allergy-ridden Dexter King, a stage actor stuck in a dead-end job in an interminable run of London's tackiest comic review. He's the "tall guy," the eternal butt of slapstick gags delivered by the star performer, a brilliantly obnoxious Rowan Atkinson. Cupid's arrow strikes between sneezes when hay fever propels Dexter to the doctor's office--and he catches his first glance of Nurse Kate Lemmon (a pre-Shakespeare Emma Thompson). Battling his deep-seated fear of needles, Dexter invents excuses to get shots just to get close to her. After much pain (and much prodding from Dexter's oddly maternal nymphomaniac landlady), their courtship takes off. (Kate's practical dating philosophy--have sex first, so you know if all those expensive dinners will actually be worth it--leads to one of the most comically destructive love scenes ever filmed.) Dexter, giddy with new love, gets fired--and lands the title role in Elephant!, a musical version of The Elephant Man (one heartwarming hit: "Somewhere in Heaven, There's an Angel with Big Ears"). But his curvaceous leading lady develops a champagne-fueled passion for pachyderms ... and Dexter's in yet another sticky situation. As British romances go, The Tall Guy owes more to TV's Fawlty Towers than The English Patient--but what it lacks in depth, it makes up in sheer comedy. --Grant Balfour

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