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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 12.5%
Average: 12.5%
Pretty Bad: 12.5%
Total Crap50%

1 review, 10 user ratings

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Thief of Hearts
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by Scott Weinberg

"A soft-core cable groper that somehow escaped into movie theaters."
1 stars

How quickly the shelf life of Hollywood’s "next big thing" can evaporate has never been more evident than in the case of screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart.

After cutting his teeth on several television productions (and the feature film The Blue Lagoon), Stewart hit Hollywood in a big way with his Oscar-nominated screenplay for An Officer and a Gentleman. Stewart didn’t win the Oscar, but he did earn the right to direct his own project, a movie that would eventually be called Thief of Hearts. After that one was a financial bomb, Stewart would eventually go on to pen such laugh-out-loud turkeys as the Kirk Cameron flick Listen to Me and the universally ridiculed Demi Moore remake of The Scarlet Letter. It just goes to show you that one solid screenplay doesn’t necessarily lead to bigger and better things.

It may seem a bit surprising that a movie as simplistic as An Officer and a Gentleman earned an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay, but compared with what Stewart offers in Thief of Hearts... his previous work seems like pure genius. This flick is a dreary, dull and altogether grating film, one that's as derivative and simple as it is just plain boring. The plot - cat burglar steals some diaries and becomes obsessed with the woman he just robbed them from - may be enough to fill up one episode of Red Shoe Diaries, but there’s not nearly enough here to stretch into a feature-length film. Plus, Stewart may be only a mediocre screenwriter, but his directorial skills are almost laughable.

Barbara Williams (Krippendorf’s Tribe) plays Mickey Davis, aspiring interior designer and wife to a grumpy author of children’s books. While the bickering couple are out celebrating their anniversary, professional thief Scott Muller is inside their house, efficiently stealing every valuable in sight. When Mickey and Ray return home, they find their house ransacked and Mickey’s oh-so-personal journals are missing... along with all the more expensive jewelry and appliances.

Why a professional thief would want to steal someone’s worthless memoirs is anyone’s guess, yet Muller becomes smitten with the woman after reading her torrid diary entries. Throwing caution to the wind, Muller poses as a swank businessman in order to meet and romance Mickey, while using her most private thoughts and feelings to insinuate himself into her heart. Needless to say, Muller’s devious plan doesn’t go exactly as he expected. Aside from the prying eyes of Mickey’s husband, Muller must also deal with his partner-in-crime, a ruthless little cokehead who seems to be an accident waiting to happen.

In one scene, which clearly illustrates the movie’s overt silliness, Muller reads in Mickey’s journal that she loves when a man allows her to pick up a dinner check. Guess what happens when the pair finally meets up for dinner? Yep, he lets her pay while he beams smugly. I can’t tell which portion of this plot device is lazier; the fact that he actually follows the journal’s direction, or that a woman would transcribe in her personal journal a piece of information so pointless and transparent. Either way, this scene is symptomatic of the simplistic and wholly contrived screenplay.

Barbara Williams - looking like a creepy mixture of Barbara Streisand and Jennifer Grey - offers a performance that makes it clear why her later resume would be filled with non-stop TV movies a C-grade junk. Simply put, she’s pretty bad. John Getz (he of the melted limbs in Cronenberg’s The Fly) acts whiny and bossy - up until the third act, when the screenplay suddenly needs him to be considerate and warm. (I simply couldn’t get past his resemblance to a chubbier, grumpier John Ritter.) As the allegedly sexy mystery man Scott Muller, Steven Bauer is a royal hoot. In supporting roles (Scarface, Traffic), Bauer has proven that he’s earned a small spot in the sun, but the poor guy’s expected to carry this whole charmless affair on his own. Needless to say, he fails.

Those who love to spot smaller actors before they were famous may get a kick out of seeing Christine Ebersole, George Wendt and David Caruso on display, but their characters are as inconsequential as they are rarely-seen, and the potentially helpful supporting cast is left out to pasture.

Aside from the poor direction, generally awful acting performances, and a screenplay that ALMOST becomes so bad it's good, Thief of Hearts is an unnecessary and thankfully forgettable little time capsule from 1984. Many of the most entertaining moments seem entirely unintentional, and the mid-80’s fashion, décor, and hairstyles look more arcane than the powdered wigs of the 1700’s.

Unless you’re looking for a film to help you fall asleep in less than 15 minutes, I’d say avoid this one completely.

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originally posted: 05/04/04 11:31:33
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User Comments

12/28/09 cufflinkman stupid plot, wooden leading man, obnoxious music 1 stars
10/05/07 David Cohen Not thrilling, no mystery, not the least bit romantic, what the hell is it?! 2 stars
1/02/07 cody a decent film with some erotic scenes and good acting, many twists to boot. 3 stars
6/15/06 Stanley Milstein 'Totally disagree; storyline is credible, Bauer is contemptivle, and Williams is lovely 4 stars
12/24/05 tot love this - disagree with review on almost every point 5 stars
9/13/04 Cee Cee Awesome movie 5 stars
5/31/04 Brett Hoopingarner A product of it's time.Harmless escapism film with very classy and slick production values! 4 stars
2/11/04 tatum Silly softcore 2 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby Dumb but colorfully rendered. Great score and photography. 3 stars
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  02-Jul-1984 (R)


  02-Feb-1985 (M)

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